"There ain't nobody in the world like book people."
It's a bit embarrassing to admit how emotional this book made me. I'm not even a fan of Zevin's wo"There ain't nobody in the world like book people."
It's a bit embarrassing to admit how emotional this book made me. I'm not even a fan of Zevin's work; I quite liked the concept behind Elsewhere but not the execution, and I pretty much hated All These Things I've Done. But this book is just so warm and funny and bittersweet. It speaks to the thing inside me that has always loved books, will always love books, and has allowed my life to be swept in certain directions by my love for literature.
A.J. Fikry is one of my favourite kinds of characters - he's cynical and grumpy, but simultaneously witty, clever, funny and lovable. This is essentially the tale of his life after the death of his beloved wife. He must somehow pick up the pieces of his world and continue managing his bookstore, while all he really wants to do is drink away his problems.
One day, A.J. receives an unexpected package that is guaranteed to completely change his life. Like many great books, his life twists in a strange new direction, introducing him to new people and new ways of thinking. He soon begins to realise that he still has many things worth living for.
Woven with allusions to many works of literature - especially short stories - this novel should resonate with many book lovers. Those of us who have been truly affected, influenced, changed or - dare I be so melodramatic - even saved by them. I don't know if Zevin intended to make a point about the death of the bookstore and physical books in favour of ereaders, but I found myself feeling a little melancholy as time went by and more people stopped buying physical books. Though ultimately relieved, as I realised how important bookstores and paper books still are to many people.
Whether this book is for you or not, I cannot say. It is both funny and serious, happy and sad, light and dark... but I wouldn't have it any other way. ...more
A few years ago, me and my sister nearly killed ourselves laughing when we discovered a "song" our dad wrote when he was about 9 years old. It opens:
TA few years ago, me and my sister nearly killed ourselves laughing when we discovered a "song" our dad wrote when he was about 9 years old. It opens:
The streets are straight They're very cool So is our house It's got a pool.
Talent for poetry aside, that is a downright lie! I don't know anyone in Britain who has a pool.
But regardless, my dad evidently missed out on his opportunity to have a career writing poems if this book is anything to judge it by. Because I swear that some of the "poetry" in this book is of about the same standard as my dad's 9-year-old efforts.
I mean, it's hard to know where to begin. I could criticise the simplistic (not in a good way) nature of almost all the poems, or the awkward rhymes some of them try to get away with. But even without that, these are so steeped in teen emo angst that it's hard to imagine anyone can take them seriously.
And they're all about boys being your life, your hero, your everything... nothing else can compare, you will never get over him, and - get this! - you wish "to die so I can end this on a high." Feminism and female independence get murdered by this book:
“I feel the end is drawing near, would time be so kind to slow? You are everything to me, my dear, you are all I really know.”
“He has me at his every whim; everything starts with him.
To all the boys I used to kiss— everything stops with his.”
I don't know who voted for this collection as a Goodreads Choice Award winner, but I do know who I would recommend this book for: myself at thirteen. I was that kid at thirteen who was enjoying being the first generation growing up with the internet, which meant collecting depressing quotes on Photobucket and checking out emo graphics on other people's Myspace profiles. Goddamn, I would have eaten this up.
Thirteen year old self, this is one for you....more
I was one of that annoying minority who didn't really like The Winner's Curse. I mean, it was okay, but proved onceMarie Rutkoski has upped her game.
I was one of that annoying minority who didn't really like The Winner's Curse. I mean, it was okay, but proved once again that most writers of YA fantasy focus on the flirtations and romancing and forget about pretty much everything else. However, the way that book ended had me curious about the potential new directions of book two...
I was right to be curious. I was right to take my chances on the sequel.
This book just has everything. I would liken it to what Maas did when she took us from the romantic, fantasy-lite Throne of Glass to the clever, action-packed Crown of Midnight. Rutkoski gets vicious in this book. Kestrel must make the hardest of decisions, sacrifice people for the "greater good", and outwit the emperor and his armies. There are no such things as friends and allies in Kestrel's world anymore; the only person she can rely on is herself.
It's amazing how much more I liked the relationship between Kestrel and Arin when it was slipped into the background behind all the treason, revenge and backstabbing going on. The moments when they did meet had more love/hate tension and I found myself angsting over what would happen between them. Because this second book is very clearly not a romance and I felt the complete lack of guarantee in a happy ending on every single page.
The Winner's Crime is much more tightly-plotted and full of genuine surprises than the first book. I could hardly look away as it zipped along at a wonderful pace, twisting one way and then another. I like how Kestrel is a complex heroine and not wholly good; she's allowed to be selfish and make choices we don't necessarily agree with.
I also feel like we got a better sense of Kestrel's intelligence and ability in this book. Now she has bigger concerns than her romance with Arin and high society life, we get to see her plotting, being damn sneaky, and outwitting the emperor. It gave me a new kind of respect for her and I can't wait to see where her story goes.
One thing I like a lot about these books is the way each ending has promised a very different kind of story. I only picked up this book because the ending of the last seemed to suggest an entirely new setting and array of problems... and the end of this one does the same. I can already see that the third book will bring something very different.
"I shall be a carrion monster, he whispered into the coral shell of her ear, an organ of women he found unspeakably moving in its soft, whorling vort"I shall be a carrion monster, he whispered into the coral shell of her ear, an organ of women he found unspeakably moving in its soft, whorling vortex, and which always seemed to him to be an invitation to adventure."
I guess I'm inviting haters and trolls by reviewing this much-loved Booker Prize winner, but the eye rolls started somewhere halfway through chapter one and they just wouldn't stop.
It makes me feel bad saying this about a book which was clearly inspired by the author's father's own experiences on the Burma death railway. How can you criticise a work that sets out to tell such an horrific story of war and violence? But this book is drowning itself in its own pretentious language. A woman's ear is an invitation to adventure? Give me a break.
If the story had been less dressed-up with fancy trimmings, in my opinion it would have been better, had no Man Booker Prize, and sold far fewer copies. Which is sad, really. But I guess when you strip it down, The Narrow Road to the Deep North is yet another war story with plenty of gore and sadness; it achieves differentiation by waxing poetic about life, love and ears.
And: "He found her nipples wondrous." Oh, come on. They. Are. Nipples. They might be a lot of things, but... "wondrous"? Forgive me if I'm somewhat skeptical. Or perhaps I'm just jealous and wish I had wondrous nipples; I didn't realise it was something I was missing out on until now.
Then there's Dorrigo Evans who, despite the flowery language and metaphors floating around, feels like a Gary Stu worthy of some YA books I've read. I just don't buy into his self-deprecation. He's like one of those people who is humble just so he can wait around to be applauded for being humble. Like he fancies himself as a modern Socrates: "I know nothing. Therefore I'm more intelligent than you because I know that I know nothing." Let's all step out of the way and make room for Dorrigo's lack of ego.
The Man Booker Prize is such a huge award that I'm always intrigued by its winners, but I find myself liking them less and less. Whatever they're being judged on is clearly not something I'm looking to read.
Oh well, there are thousands of positive reviews of this book if you want to go see why you should love it.
It's time for that approximately biannual event once again - Stephen King has released a new novel. And it's a good one.
I never know how to approach aIt's time for that approximately biannual event once again - Stephen King has released a new novel. And it's a good one.
I never know how to approach a review for a Stephen King book. I use a different tone when writing about different kind of novels - classics and literary fiction usually get one style of review, fantasy/paranormal and YA (genre fiction, basically) get another. But where does Mr King fit?
The "problem" with Stephen King is that he writes such engrossing, imaginative pageturners that manage to hook you, creep you out and make you think. Every book release jumps to the top of the pop fiction charts. Which, in theory, is great; except that Mr King often gets overlooked as a truly great writer, which he is.
With this latest book, King takes one of the oldest of the old ideas and breathes new life into it. The underlying theme of this book is that timeless question: what lies after death? Is there anything beyond this world? Is there a way for the living to ever find out before their time comes?
Using his familiar talent for creating characters that feel entirely real, King at first introduces us to a small town and religious community in New England. Into this unremarkable place comes a new minister, Charles Jacobs; his arrival sparks a series of events that will change the lives of both our narrator (Jamie Morton) and numerous other unfortunate people for decades to come.
The story spans many years of Jamie's life; from his childhood in New England, to his teenage and young adult years as a musician, and his subsequent heroin addiction. Charles Jacobs will come back into his life many times and propel Jamie towards a ever more disturbing truth.
This book starts as a contemporary drama type book that creates complex characters, looks at themes of religion and family, and builds up an interesting three-dimensional portrait of a small community. But as the novel moves along, it becomes darker and creepier. It took me a while to understand why so many people thought this book was so scary and disturbing... but it was worth waiting for.
Unsettling. That is how I would describe this story. It's not a tale of traditional monsters that hunt you down in the dark; in fact, it plays on the very real fears of everyone. It takes questions everyone has asked themselves and creates something horrifying out of it.
I know this is a heavy claim to make, but I think this might be one of my favourite Stephen King novels....more
Disclaimer: The author of this book was a member of my book club in college and never complained when I coerced him into watching bad cop shows and eaDisclaimer: The author of this book was a member of my book club in college and never complained when I coerced him into watching bad cop shows and eating frozen blueberries with me (a testament to his character, if ever there was one). That being said, I promised him my honest opinion with a guarantee that I would rip the book to shreds if I hated it.
Unfortunately, he's actually good. Damn him.
****: The Anatomy of Melancholy is an ambitious debut; both a darkly comic portrayal of modern youth and a disturbingly insightful look at the people who are products of the digital age. It is the kind of novel that can inspire laughter and anxiety with a single sentence and which is simultaneously - through the narrator - horrifying, hilarious and evocative.
Sex, drugs, violence, discontent... our narrator pulls us through his life, which is fuelled by the over-sexualized images and unrealistic expectations created by the digital world. His commentary on life, women and people in general is entirely offensive and chilling - be prepared for an unlikable protagonist. But, especially as more pages fly by, he seems increasingly worthy of our sympathy; an unfortunate victim of the modern world.
The fragmented format of the book, which tells the narrator's frantic life in small scenes that jump quickly from one to the next, works well with the themes. I love stories that give the impression of growth, progression and development by the end, and this is one of those books that starts as a light, profanity-laden look into the mind of a horny young man - hovering somewhere between humour and serious commentary with the frequent nihilistic rants - but gathers depth and meaning as the novel moves along. You feel like you've come a long way by the end.
Addressing the reader in a constant informal conversation, the narrator is at once our pal, someone we don't like, and an echo of parts of ourselves.
Mr Selwyn has written one hell of an intriguing book....more
Like pain, you can use threats to make you stronger. If they hide a serpent in your bed, you must catch it and make it bite the hand of him who leftLike pain, you can use threats to make you stronger. If they hide a serpent in your bed, you must catch it and make it bite the hand of him who left it.
I really should make a habit of reading more historical fiction. I always love the blend of fact and imagination that comes with taking a specific point in history and weaving a brand new tale into it. And yet, I almost always steer clear of it in favour of something with magic and teenagers.
But there *is* something magic about this familiar but completely different world, anyway. The Vanishing Witch is the first book I've read by Maitland but I doubt it will be the last.
After the darkly mysterious prologue, this book first paints us a quiet picture. It's small town life in Lincoln (north of England) during the reign of Richard II (1367-1400). We are introduced to families, to errant husbands, to comely widows and to an atmosphere of fear and suspicion. As I said, the picture starts quiet... but it becomes louder as more layers are peeled away and we get to see what lies underneath.
Despite the title, this is not really a supernatural novel. It does, however, carry a heavy sense of magical foreboding that permeates the entire book. The times in question were laden with fear of the supernatural and suspicion of witchcraft. When people start dying in strange circumstances, accusations of witchcraft rear their ugly head and infect the entire town.
From the very first chapter, there's a gradual and growing sense of dark malevolence creeping in behind the scenes. It increases as the story moves along and more is revealed. I would say it's a very creepy novel that would make a great horror film because of all the mystery and uncertainty. You get the feeling that something much darker and far more terrible is hanging over the story and the characters the whole time.
I'm dark matter. The universe inside of me is full of something, and science can't even shine a light on it. I feel like I'm mostly made of mysteriesI'm dark matter. The universe inside of me is full of something, and science can't even shine a light on it. I feel like I'm mostly made of mysteries.
Oh my... Magonia is one hell of a rare novel.
Not only does it offer an intriguing blend of reality-infused science fiction and highly-imaginative fantasy, but it is also unlike anything I have ever read before.
I've always said that - for me - originality is one of the best and rarest compliments a writer can get. Not "this is the next Hunger Games or Harry Potter" but "this is completely different to everything else I've read". How unusual it is to read a novel and be taken to places so new, fresh and wonderfully magical.
One of my favourite things has always been when authors manage to weave fact and fiction together in order to create a fantasy story with added realism. Especially when they introduce me to parts of history I'd never heard about before. Did you know that in France in 815, sailors claimed to have come from a secret realm in the clouds they called Magonia? This was one of the first recorded instances of UFO-related occurrences and it was completely new to me.
Many times I have wondered why YA authors insist on using the same old recycled mythology when there's a whole universe of weird and wonderful shit out there just begging to be turned into a story. Here we have a fine example. This book opens up an entire new world full of detailed and exciting mythology. I was like a kid in a toy store, staring wide-eyed at all the colourful weirdness and longing for more as the pages flew by.
The author uses language that deserves the comparisons to Neil Gaiman - a rich, atmospheric style of fairytale storytelling. And with this, she creates a cast of wonderful characters who I can only hope will reappear in sequels.
The main character in Magonia is Aza Ray and she is dying. The doctors are unable to discover what is wrong with her and have failed at all attempts to cure her of the mysterious disease that is causing her to essentially drown in the Earth's atmosphere. Then one day, circumstances see Aza awakening in a whole new world where she is no longer weak and sickly, but a powerful creature at the centre of a longstanding feud that will take her to places she never could have dreamed existed.
Suddenly, she discovers the truth about her life, her past and who she is; maybe this new world can offer her a place to live the kind of life she's always wanted? Or maybe nothing is as it seems. Stir in plenty of action, romance, and well-developed family dynamics and you have something pretty damn amazing. I should also point out that the love triangle I had feared might occur never went in that direction.
Looking for a genre-defying blend of magic, love, flying and family? The only downside is that we have to wait until April for the final book to be published.
You know what I mean... just sit somewhere in a busy place and watch people bustle past in all their colourful weirdness.Do you like to people watch?
You know what I mean... just sit somewhere in a busy place and watch people bustle past in all their colourful weirdness. It's a habit I've acquired with age. Sometimes I think back to being a teenager and remember how I always wondered if I was strange in some way - I guess a lot of teens wonder that same question: am I normal? I wonder, had I taken the time to people watch back then, if I would have felt so lost and strange. I don't see how I could have. People are all damn weird creatures and they're really not very good at hiding it.
I'm saying this because The Children Act feels like people watching. Some books are easy to sell to other readers because I can promise you dragons and magic, heart-stopping action and romance that will steal your heart straight from your chest. This is not that kind of book. It's not even easy to put into words what this book is about. But it was, for me, nothing short of fascinating.
The main plot follows the life of an aging judge called Fiona whose husband has just announced that he wants to have one last passionate love affair with a younger woman before they can both settle into old age. He seems to believe she will be okay and accept the situation because of his openness and honesty. He is, not surprisingly, wrong.
I guess this book is what people tend to call a "character study" but that sounds so boring, right? Like something you'd be set for a college assignment, leave until the last minute and rush out in a mediocre essay (possibly while drunk). It isn't. Fiona's tale may be a quiet journey through the inner workings of someone's life, job and marriage, but it is also an extremely interesting portrait of a woman who continues to go through the motions of her everyday life while her private life may be falling apart.
Fiona (and the reader) finds herself emotionally pulled inside the case of a boy who is a Jehovah's Witness and wants to be allowed to refuse medical treatment. Because he is a few months shy of eighteen, Fiona must rule whether he should be allowed to refuse the blood transfusion or whether the hospital can ignore his wishes and proceed to save his life.
I don't know how to convince others that this book is interesting. I have to admit that I would not have picked it up without having read the author's previous work. It's such a simplistic, quiet story that is transformed into a powerful tale in McEwan's hands. I have absolutely nothing in common with Fiona, but her thoughts, emotions, doubts and insecurities feel extremely relatable.
There are some authors that create stories which feel very personal and particular, but simultaneously feel completely universal. For me, this was one of those rarities. I am so glad I took a chance on this book and got to immerse myself in Fiona's life.
I'm not sure what crazy people shelved this book as "romance". You is romantic in the same way that Lolita is romantic. In other words: an insane, obs I'm not sure what crazy people shelved this book as "romance". You is romantic in the same way that Lolita is romantic. In other words: an insane, obsessive and manipulative romance from the perspective of a charming psychopath.
It's a fucked up tale told from the POV of a stalker who obsesses over and spies on a young woman. He gradually plants himself into her life and seeks a relationship with her, whilst simultaneously hacking her emails and following every little thing she does. If you're looking for a creeptastic story just in time for Halloween then you need look no further.
What is perhaps most unsettling about our narrator is how closely he resembles some of the love interests in YA and NA romance books. Telling his unreliable tale, Joe truly believes that he and Beck are meant to be. His narration is completely insane, horrifying and - at times - beautiful.
He is a fantastically unreliable narrator, made more so by the charm and humour he uses to engage the reader. Like Humbert from Lolita, Joe's intelligence, wit and candor make it easy to sympathize with him, even though we are aware of how twisted he really is.
The novel evades the boundaries of genre; not quite a contemporary, maybe, but also unlike most psychological thrillers, creating something new and complex - quite unlike anything I've ever read before. Being inside Joe's head is a poisonous but admittedly fascinating place to be. Through him, the author examines the games people play with one another and the gentle manipulation that even the most innocent of us are capable of at times:
You also offers an interesting look at stalking in the digital age. Joe is able to commit his crimes through the use of email, Facebook and Twitter; finding out huge amounts of information about Beck without even leaving his house. It made me incredibly aware of how visible we all are these days and had me almost looking over my own shoulder as I was reading it.
A random spur of the moment read that really paid off.
I'm not sure my review of this is really needed. If you're wanting to explore the world of the free Tor short stories, you should just check out karenI'm not sure my review of this is really needed. If you're wanting to explore the world of the free Tor short stories, you should just check out karen's reviews, which is where I find all the good ones. But I can't just leave this review space blank either, the story deserves more than that.
“Mama Alice would say that God never gives us any burdens we can’t carry.” The harpy says, Does she look you in the eye when she says that?
I find it amazing sometimes how I can read a 500-page novel and remain fairly emotionally detached, but some writers are just able to tear my heart open and leave me thinking about their story for hours... with just a few pages of powerful writing.
This story is so raw. The writing has an edgy, gritty, ugly honesty about it that drew me in and had me living inside the narrator's mind. I guess it's some kind of magical realism / dark fantasy if you want to get into genre-specifics but it's also way more than that. It's a portrait of a young girl called Desiree who was born disfigured and sick, a girl who is dying and must take pills every day... but she's not dying - in her own words - "fast enough".
"I’m dying. Just not fast enough. If it were faster, I’d have nothing to worry about. As it is, I’m going to have to figure out what I’m going to do with my life."
If she had a couple of years, she could resign herself to her fate; if she had a full life, she could live it happily. But, instead, she's somewhere in between. Still dying, longing for everything normal people get to have, and having to decide what to do next with her half-life.
Every day, she visits the harpy who lives in an alley near her home; she feeds it garbage and the two form a strange kind of friendship... strange, but possibly the most genuine relationship in Desiree's life. Hell, I feel emotional just trying to write this damn review.
It's a very dark, bleak tale that you probably shouldn't read if you're feeling particularly depressed, but it was an incredibly effective piece of storytelling. I hung on the author's every word.
“I clench my jaw and narrow my eyes. I am no wilting Alben, I am a fierce and strong Melenese woman. And I am not the victim of any cruel jokes. Spi
“I clench my jaw and narrow my eyes. I am no wilting Alben, I am a fierce and strong Melenese woman. And I am not the victim of any cruel jokes. Spirits below, I will make certain he knows I am not to be toyed with.”
3 1/2 stars. It was, in fact, a solid 4 stars leaning towards 4 1/2 before those last couple of hastily pulled together chapters in which the author rushed us towards a conclusion and narrowly avoided necessitating a sequel. Messy ending aside, I enjoyed this novel a lot and am thankful I didn't realize initially that the author was the same one who bored me with both Paranormalcy and The Chaos of Stars. This was an all round much better book.
It's an ambitious premise that blends a fantasy world with historical parallels, which clearly allude to colonialism. Amazingly, this wild combination of fast-pacing, fluffy banter, magic and an underlying look at colonial struggles somehow works well. Kiersten White works in social and political issues like racism, sexism, and cultural stereotypes, whilst simultaneously keeping the banter light and funny. There was so much to like here that I feel very forgiving towards the rushed ending.
1) It was a pageturner The story zips along at a wonderful pace. We are introduced to action, magic and mystery almost immediately, and I was pulled in from the very first chapter. The chapters have that annoyingly addictive habit of finishing on a cliffhanger, so you find yourself forced into the next chapter in order to discover what happens. Between the supernatural omens, the evil ministers and the budding romance, it's hard to look away.
2) I LOVED Jessamin Jessamin is strong, smart, ambitious and won't melt in a puddle just because a guy with a pretty face looks her way. She's in the middle of a world that doesn't welcome her, both as a female student and as a colonial subject from Melei. Dark-skinned and vivacious, she stands out amid all the paleness and propriety of Albion. Little does she know that racism is about to be only half of her problems when she suddenly gets pulled into a world of magic, murder and mayhem.
3) A romance I actually liked Firstly, I liked both characters of Jessamin and Finn. There was no instalove or instaobsession or general falling into hormonal mushiness after their first meeting. The build was gradual and realistic, peppered with witty and flirtatious banter (my favourite kind). Jessamin also frequently challenges the way others treat her and doesn't allow Finn to use protection as an excuse to control her:
“You couch your motivations under the banner of protecting me, when it comes down to the fact that you think you are better than I am and more equipped to rule my life.”
4) Healthy portrayal of female friendship I have no idea why this is so rare in YA, but I am thankful for the friendship between Jessamin and Eleanor in this book. There's no bitterness or jealousy between them, they stick together and look out for one another, despite being two very different people. Plus, I love this exchange (Jessamin speaks first):
“They’re wrong, you know. About you. Your uncle and Lord Downpike. You are smart and brave and terribly important.” She laughs. “Oh, I know that, silly. But it’s easier not to let them realize it, because then they’d stop ignoring me, and they’d realize how much mischief I really get up to.”
In short, I enjoyed the book a lot. The twist towards the end is a little ridiculous; it attempts to tie everything up in the penultimate chapter and part of me wonders if the ending might have been stronger without the chapter after it. But it didn't matter that much. This is a strong fantasy; fun in its dialogue, friendships and romance, but also important in its look at racism and stereotyping on both sides of colonialism. ............................................................................................
On a note unrelated to the actual story, I can't be the only one bugged by the white girl on the cover when the protagonist is clearly described as having "dark skin" and "black hair"... right? You don't fool me with your shadow effects, Ms book cover, I can see you're white.
“There comes a day when every girl loses the stars in her eyes. And then she can see clearly. This is Lily’s day.”
Believe me when I say: This is not
“There comes a day when every girl loses the stars in her eyes. And then she can see clearly. This is Lily’s day.”
Believe me when I say: This is not Lily’s day. Lily is not losing any bloody stars from her eyes anytime soon. In fact, I would say the stars breed, multiply and become a damn constellation by the time this book is finished. There's a love triangle, insta-angst and a whole lot of general stupidity to look forward to along the way.
Please could someone tell me how a girl like Lily, who is so sappy and obsessed with douchebags, somehow manages to become a powerful witch by clicking her heels together and saying "bibbity bobbity boo"? 'kay, not literally. But it more or less amounts to the same.
The basic premise of this novel is intriguing: what if parallel universes did exist? And what if in one of these other universes you were a powerful witch? Even more exciting - what if the boundaries between your world and the other universe started to break down? Oh yes, very cool stuff. Or it would be... if this random mishmash world actually made any sense.
What kind of bizarre shit is even going on here in this alternate Salem? Yes, of course, Salem because witches, people! This world is crazy. It’s literally described as a random assortment of old fashioned and new, metallic buildings. It’s like a bit of everything, vomited all over the place and not making any sense.
Lily ends up here because she caught sexy dude #1 - Tristan - cheating on her in a bathroom at a party. In true Bella Swan collapsing-into-a-coma-for-months-because-my-boyfriend-left style, Lily suddenly decides that her actual life is no longer worth sticking around in (chyeah, because of a boy) and she gets pulled into another parallel universe by parallel Lily who is a powerful witch.
Still with me? Cool.
Enter sexy dude #2 - Rowan. What's worse than a YA love triangle? A YA love triangle between a Mary Sue, a cheating douche, and a broody and aggressive douche.
“She knew it was Rowan’s arm—the same guy who had said he would happily kill her—but she couldn’t seem to get herself to pull away from him in disgust. Every part of her felt like it was in exactly the right place.”
I didn't even hate the story itself. It was fine; the everything thrown into the pot world-building left something to be desired but other than that it was inoffensive standard paranormal YA. No, my problem was with these stupid, annoying characters. Especially Lily.
Lily is weak. I'm not talking about her allergies and health issues, I'm talking about the fact that she defines her life by whether or not her crush is interested in her. Sexy boy douche cheats with someone else? Naturally, her life is over. She's pushed around by everyone else and is in serious need of a backbone. Also, I hate it when MCs describe themselves in a way that is supposed to imply they’re unattractive but only emphasizes their obvious beauty.
Lily is, of course, “too thin”. Too. Thin. Is that seriously the best you can do?
“Oh, it’s so sad when i trip over my long eyelashes and full breasts, give me sympathy please.”
Despite coming to pieces literally and figuratively every time she leaves her house, and being "too thin", Lily is the centre of the universe. And not just this universe! Every universe, it would seem. Men are falling over themselves to love her. She is an important piece in the big plans of other people. Not to mention that she is suddenly the best witch ever. Her witchiness is the equivalent of Dorothy tapping her damn heels together. Seriously, it’s like instantaneous witchy badass.
Trial by Fire is a laughable addition to an overcrowded genre full of the same old YA tropes. I’m not giving it one star because that seems way more dramatic than the book deserves.
My grandad is the very definition of curmudgeonly. He's an eighty year old man who likes to complain about anythI'm going to share something with you.
My grandad is the very definition of curmudgeonly. He's an eighty year old man who likes to complain about anything and everything: youth today, UK politics, my dad, the weather, technology... you name it. He calls me and my siblings up most days to tell stories punctuated with rants and numerous "bloody hell"s. I'm not worried about him seeing this post because he doesn't trust computers and hasn't even grasped the concept of the internet. Most new technology is referred to as "those bloody things", except for FaceTime, which he has recently taken a liking to. He makes use of it by popping up on my iPhone multiple times a day to deliver a bout of doom and gloom in which I see nothing on the screen but his chin.
All my friends are a little afraid of him and are never quite sure when he's joking. He is nothing short of a grumpy old man. Except, in truth, that's only half of it.
The other day I opened the mailbox to find an envelope which contained this picture of me and him from my graduation:
And with it came this note:
Thing is, behind whatever my grandad may seem on the outside, he is a loving man who lost his wife - my grandmother - several years ago. He bugs us constantly with his moaning about life because he's lonely and because he misses us. He has a heart and he has a sense of humour, even if most people don't really get it. And it was in Ove, the protagonist of this novel, that I recognized pieces of my grandad.
“People said he was bitter. Maybe they were right. He’d never reflected much on it. People also called him antisocial. Ove assumed this meant he wasn’t overly keen on people. And in this instance he could totally agree with them. More often than not people were out of their minds.”
I loved Ove. Parts of this novel punched me right in my emotions. I think I would have been okay if this novel was merely a sad, moving tale about a man who has to get on with his life after his wife died. I could have shaken off the emotional manipulation - as I did with The Fault in Our Stars - and not shed a tear. But this story is so much more than a tearjerker.
Ove shouldn't be a character we love; he's so miserly and grumpy and skeptical of everything... but he's also hilarious. He charms us with his completely uncharming ways. Because, though I don't share his worldview, what he says actually makes sense and sometimes it's really funny. Take this:
“Ove glares out of the window. The poser is jogging. Not that Ove is provoked by jogging. Not at all. Ove couldn’t give a damn about people jogging. What he can’t understand is why they have to make such a big thing of it. With those smug smiles on their faces, as if they were out there curing pulmonary emphysema. Either they walk fast or they run slowly, that’s what joggers do. It’s a forty-year-old man’s way of telling the world that he can’t do anything right. Is it really necessary to dress up as a fourteen-year-old Romanian gymnast in order to be able to do it? Or the Olympic tobogganing team? Just because one shuffles aimlessly around the block for three quarters of an hour?”
Plus, there's a wonderful cat who our lovable protagonist grudgingly befriends, which just improves this book even more.
I think perhaps the saddest part of this book is not found in the most obvious place. Ove's loss of his wife touched me, but I was even more affected by the underlying tale of old age and how many old people can be left feeling lonely and out of place towards the end of their lives. How difficult it must be to live alone in a world that becomes more foreign to you every day, with its new gadgets and trends that you don't understand or care to entertain. It was moving and thought-provoking.