“Everybody’s interested in me.” “Not him.” Jeff Stern, the host and roommate, tossed in a thousand dollars’ worth of chips. “Ain’t that right, Lane?” ““Everybody’s interested in me.” “Not him.” Jeff Stern, the host and roommate, tossed in a thousand dollars’ worth of chips. “Ain’t that right, Lane?” “Are you gay? Is he gay?” Lane moved the queen of hearts next to the king of hearts. Shifted the jack next to the queen. Wanted to push the boob job with mouth onto the floor.”
I actually hated this book. I'm not even trying to be dramatic - I HATED it.
Even though Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series was a little cliche and more than a little repetitive after a while, I confess to quite enjoying it. Especially the earlier books. So when I heard that she'd moved away from vampires and turned to Southern family drama for her latest series, I was ready to settle into an entertaining - if not mind-blowing - read.
But not only was this book one big cheesy cliche after another, I just despised the characters, found the sexual chemistry completely absent, and was a little uncomfortable - almost offended - in parts.
Firstly, though, how many times do I have to read this story?:
A rich, gorgeous and arrogant guy has fake-boobed, dyed-haired "bimbos" throwing themselves at him, but he is uninterested and too good for these dehumanized women. Yes, that's right - dehumanized into descriptions of their clothes and plastic surgery. Or referred to like this:
"Lane sat back and addressed the fool that had brought the chatty accessory."
Yeah, that chatty accessory is indeed a woman.
This rich dude, however, only wants a nice girl - a Mary Sue who doesn't wear make-up or have surgical enhancements:
“Her face was free of makeup, the skin tanned and glowing, the bone structure reminding him that good genetics were better than a hundred thousand dollars’ of plastic surgery.”
Plus, Lane - the guy in question - is pretty much a rude dick to everyone he doesn't want to fuck. Is it supposed to be sexy when he talks down to and rudely dismisses the staff in his family home? He also has a wife who is a racist piece of shit, which is used to justify him threatening to beat her:
“Don’t be ridiculous. Besides, she’s black— ” Lane grabbed Chantal’s arm and yanked her up close. “Don’t you ever talk about her with that kind of attitude. I’ve never hit a woman before, but I guarantee I will beat the shit out of you if you disrespect her.”
I honestly don't even know how to feel about that exchange. Should I hate her for being racist? Or hate him for being abusive? In truth, I just couldn't stand either of them.
The whole story is supposed to be about Lane meeting his old flame - Lizzie - after years apart. They could not be together because he is heir to a huge Bourbon empire and she's one of the gardeners. But now she's back and old emotions resurface (etc., etc.) and both of them must try to resist the pull of their pasts.
Now, I admit that there's something really sexy about old lovers with unsolved angst meeting up again. But Ward manages to drain every bit of excitement out of it. There is no build-up, no tension; even the supposed obstacles feel contrived and unrealistic.
This isn't unique to Ward's work, though. It seems to be the modern thing - happening in almost every NA romance I read. Does no one want a slow build of chemistry and tension anymore? Do readers only want instant gratification? Erections popping up and juices flowing as soon as they set eyes on one another? Am I one of a small few who is turned off by this?
Maybe. I don't know. I only know that this book was a mess. And it didn't even manage to be entertaining....more
Honestly? I finished this book a week ago and really can't find anything substantial to say about it. I'll try to articulate what makes this book so dHonestly? I finished this book a week ago and really can't find anything substantial to say about it. I'll try to articulate what makes this book so dull and forgettable.
Never Always Sometimes is a wannabe John Green book. It tries to follow in JG's footsteps by creating overly quirky, intelligent characters caricatures who do not resemble any teenagers I've ever known. Except, unlike Green's works and others who have tried to do similar things, this book isn't particularly well-written or compelling.
These boring friends-turned-lovers characters do not stand out and, in my opinion, don't offer anything that makes me want to continue turning pages. If I didn't have an ARC, I wouldn't have bothered to force my way through it. It was one of those books that I would put down and genuinely not want to pick up again. I only gave it two stars because one star feels like a passionately negative rating and there was nothing to elicit passion here.
Even though I wasn't crazy in love with Eleanor & Park like many other readers, I still admit that this book just pales in comparison - feeling cheesy and completely unremarkable alongside Rowell's cute, honest and sometimes dark romance.
The plot is about Dave and Julia who vowed never to fall into any of the regular high school cliches. Now, though, they're seniors and decide to throw their rules out of the window and find out exactly what they've been missing out on. It emerges fairly early that Dave has been in love with Julia forever and he now has a chance to break the ultimate rule - #10, never date your best friend.
I reached the ending with a sigh of relief and without feeling a single emotion for these characters. I think if you want a cute teen romance built on friendship then you should read Eleanor & Park instead.
Sophie Kinsella used to be such a guilty pleasure author for me. I haven't read one of her books in years but I always enjoyed reading about the hilarSophie Kinsella used to be such a guilty pleasure author for me. I haven't read one of her books in years but I always enjoyed reading about the hilarious, ridiculous and unfortunate situations her shopaholic protagonist found herself in.
Finding Audrey, though, could be Kinsella's strongest work to date. It's funny, sweet, heartwarming but also - I felt - an honest look at a teenage girl living with social anxiety.
“They talk about “body language,” as if we all speak it the same. But everyone has their own dialect. For me right now, for example, swiveling my body right away and staring rigidly at the corner means, “I like you.” Because I didn’t run away and shut myself in the bathroom. I just hope he realizes that.”
One of my favourite things about this book is that it's about one of those families - loud, crazy, often torn apart by arguments, but ultimately very close and loving towards one another. The dynamics Kinsella creates between the members of Audrey's family make this book very funny (and sometimes touching too).
Audrey's mother is a neurotic Daily Mail fan who constantly tries to improve her family's lifestyle after reading articles like "The Eight Signs Your Child is Addicted to Computer Games". She's comical, infuriating, but still lovable. Audrey's Dad reluctantly tries to enforce the rules his wife establishes, but he really just wants to keep the peace and watch Downton Abbey. Audrey's older brother Frank is obsessed with a game called LOC (similar to World of Warcraft) and this causes many hilarious arguments with his mum. And then there's Audrey.
Audrey is suffering from a severe anxiety disorder. She can hardly bear to leave the house and gets upset whenever Frank's gamer friends come around. However, she does begin to establish a way of communicating through paper notes with one of Frank's friends - Linus. Who, by the way, is so freaking adorable.
One of my main concerns when I started this book was that it would turn into another "love cures mental illness" tale. I hate that damaging and untrue message. But, though Linus offers support and friendship to Audrey, the author doesn't allow that message to seep through. Kinsella shows recovery from mental illness as a long process of two steps forward and one step back. Even at the novel's close, Audrey has not been miraculously cured.
I liked that. I liked that the book was a good balance of light-hearted silly humour and hard realism. It was really effective.
This is a middle grade novel about a book-lover called EMILY and "a game where books are hidden all over the country and clues to find them are reveal This is a middle grade novel about a book-lover called EMILY and "a game where books are hidden all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles."
I was really pleasantly surprised by the author's debut novel - The Truth About Alice - and the way she flawlessly crafted many different characters and their perspectives, breaking apart high school cliques and stereotypes to sensitively portray each one as a human being. Her second book is just as good.
Here she returns with a story about seventeen-year-old Rachel Walker - a girl who has spent her whole life devoted to God and preparing to be a good wife and mother. But when Rachel finds a blog from a girl who "escaped" their church, she starts to question everything she's been told about her reason for being alive. Suddenly, Rachel wants more; wants to be more. But what will she have to lose to get it?
This book could have easily turned into another scare story about religions, but the author handles it in a subtle way that works very well. I always find it hard to believe in those stories where girls are brought up devoutly religious, believe they should be subservient to their husbands and then overnight throw off their modest clothing and become full-blown feminists. Unfortunately, it's rarely that simple.
Mathieu shows that. And, though I am personally not religious, I appreciated the way she distinguished between believing in God and organized religion. Oh, and it was interesting to discover that Rachel's religion is very real - I even had to go look up the Quiverfull movement after reading because I was so curious.
Rachel herself is a very sympathetic character. Despite our completely different circumstances, I felt that I understood her feelings about her family, her church, God, life, her new friendships and her desire for knowledge and a career. The unfairness of her situation makes the book gripping, whilst the author's knack for well-developed characters makes this more than your typical fast-paced contemporary.
Oh okay, you I-told-you-so people. You were right. This book is so much fun that I baked cookies and listened to unfortunate nineties pop music.
No, rOh okay, you I-told-you-so people. You were right. This book is so much fun that I baked cookies and listened to unfortunate nineties pop music.
And I seriously didn't want to read this. I mean, why would I? I don't particularly like cutesy romances, LGBT or not. The cover is kinda sucky and not attractive. The title is an inside joke that only makes sense after reading the book. And, let's be honest, it's always easier to convince me to read books with phrases like "mind-bending twist", "dark secrets" and "twisted characters". The word "cute" doesn't draw me in.
But I finally took a chance on it and I concede - this book is wonderful. Just so so entertaining from start to finish. I actually snorted aloud (like the sexy beast I am) at some of the hilarious scenes between Simon and his friends. Simon is that perfect mix of delightfully weird and totally normal - he makes us laugh and roll our eyes, but we secretly recognize many of the things he thinks.
I giggled so much at scenes like this:
I take a sip of my beer, and it’s - I mean, it’s just astonishingly disgusting. I don’t think I was expecting it to taste like ice cream, but holy fucking hell. People lie and get fake IDs and sneak into bars, and for this? I honestly think I’d rather make out with Bieber. The dog. Or Justin. Anyway, it really makes you worry about all the hype surrounding sex.
A few minutes later...
“Simon, how much did you drink?” asks Leah. I’m twisting the ends of her hair. Leah’s hair is so pretty, and it smells exactly like French toast. Except that’s Abby. Leah smells like almonds. “One beer.” One most excellent, most delicious beer. “One beer. I can’t even begin to express how ridiculous you are.”
I know this sounds extremely lame - but this book genuinely made me happy. It doesn't hesitate to portray the reality of homophobia in a high school in the South, but it's ultimately such an uplifting story about friendship, family and the sweetest romance I may ever have read.
You can read hundreds, perhaps thousands, of books about the difficulties of dealing with your sexuality and coming out - like the dark and powerful More Happy Than Not - and these are very important, but it was so refreshing to see a warm, fuzzy gay romance where the protagonist is supported by his friends and family.
“There's zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”
I read this book for the same reason most people read this book:“There's zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”
I read this book for the same reason most people read this book: I am an introvert. I have always been an introvert, and it's a fundamental, sometimes limiting, part of who I am.
I've learned to deal with it better over the years - learned to clasp my shaking hands together during presentations, force myself to breathe normally and keep my voice steady, even force myself to make the first move in social situations. Unless you are also an introvert, you probably won't understand the efforts I have to go to (and the psychological strain this puts on me) just to behave in a way that is considered socially acceptable and is desired by employers.
It's actually caused me upset and distress for many reasons. Firstly because I find it hard to cope in the many situations where bright, outgoing personalities thrive. Secondly because it's just considered a negative trait. Look at magazines, look at books like How to Win Friends and Influence People, look at job applications asking for "people persons". I remember reading teen magazines in high school and seeing stupid articles about how to attract boys - confident, dazzling personalities are a necessity! - and feeling a very real blow to my self-esteem.
But I have accepted it as an unfortunate fact of reality for years - the simple conclusion that being introverted is a bad thing. Not a terrible thing, and definitely not an impossible thing to cope with - technology billionaires are often introverts after all - but something limiting (like a lower intelligence) that I must constantly battle against to make it through this world.
Until I read this book.
Susan Cain uses facts, statistics and her own case studies to show that introverts are greatly successful and powerful, not in spite of their introversion, but because of it. She compares different types of businesses and teamwork to show how extroverts and introverts each excel in different types of business environments. For example, extroverts often lead businesses better when there is little input from other team members; whereas introverts thrive in situations that rely on the input of a team because they are more likely to listen to the other members and implement their ideas.
From Harvard Business School students to Ivy League professors to Rosa Parks, Cain looks at the different types of influence introverts and extroverts have. She does not place favour on one or the other, but instead portrays a view of the world in which both have an extremely important part to play - it just so happens that the extroverts tend to be "louder" about it.
It's an important, engaging book that pulled along even a lover of fiction and fantasy like me. And, though comforting, it is still a respectable study that achieves more than just making introverts feel a little better about themselves. The findings speak for themselves and not only serve to please a shy little weirdo like me, but also make a lot of sense.
An important read for introverts and extroverts alike.
I fell asleep at my desk, having spent the last day teaching myself about curses and searching for Ryzhkova. The National Archives were lacking in sh
I fell asleep at my desk, having spent the last day teaching myself about curses and searching for Ryzhkova. The National Archives were lacking in ship manifests pre-1800, but allowed me to track bibliographies that led to the New York Public Library’s archives and manifests from 1600 on...
This is a book about a whiny narrator doing research. And also about tarot cards.
The Book of Speculation is a strange novel and, really, that's its greatest merit. Many different - flat and lifeless - characters have their own weird stories overlapping in this book and behind it all is the story of Simon Watson's family and the curse that may take the lives of all its women.
The book seems to promise dark family secrets, books, carnivals and magic - a blend which sounds like paradise for most readers. In truth, though, it was very slow and dull. It's one of those stories that is strongest in the very beginning when setting up the mystery; it propels the reader along by a need to discover the answers and nothing more.
The middle section of the book (about 80% of it) should have been made up of compelling drama, excitement, interesting discoveries and fascinating flashbacks to the past. Instead, it's about the boring character of Simon Watson - stealing books from the library and conducting tedious research into why the women of his family might be cursed to die on July 24.
The flashback - or, more accurately, the book Simon receives - starts off in a more interesting way. It features the story of two young lovers who are also carnival acts - Amos is a former wild boy and now reads tarot cards, Evangeline is a "mermaid" because she can hold her breath for a long time. My favourite bit (indeed, the only part I really liked) was the start of Amos's story as a mute boy from the wilderness, taken in and given a home at the carnival.
But eventually this became as tedious as the present day story. There is something a little fascinating about tarot cards, but this book drained every bit of excitement out of them. From endless mentions of cards and card-reading, to Amos using the cards to communicate with Evangeline, I just grew so tired of the book's plotlessness and boring conversations.
The Book of Speculation is being compared to two other popular books - The Night Circus and Water for Elephants. I haven't read the first, but I would say the latter is far more engaging than this book. Gruen's writing has an easy flow to it that Swyler lacks. It was so very easy for me to put this book aside every few minutes.
When you catch your husband screwing a girl half your age, you are permitted to be bitchy, even when talking to adorable nuns on airplanes - nuns whoWhen you catch your husband screwing a girl half your age, you are permitted to be bitchy, even when talking to adorable nuns on airplanes - nuns who buy you vodka, even.
If a mid-life crisis took book form, I believe it would look something like this. Not surprisingly, it's boring, and it's also about people who hate their lives, get drunk and - eventually - find themselves.
Love May Fail is my least favourite Quick book to date. Usually, I love the whimsical (but surprisingly dark) nature of his novels - the totally weird, sad, but lovable characters and the strange situations they find themselves in. Not one of the characters in this book was worth caring about, in my opinion, and the strangeness of the story was irritating, rather than cute.
The book opens with Portia Kane - a trophy wife to her misogynistic pornographer husband - drunk, whilst watching her husband cheating on her with a young woman and planning to burst in and shoot them both. Realizing that this is perhaps not the best idea, she insults his manhood and storms out, leaving him for good. Due to a pre-nup, she is now almost penniless as well as being drunk off her face and in need of a place to go. So she returns home.
Let me take a moment here to talk about how insufferable Portia Kane is. She's a spoiled brat who, though technically poor now, has rich white person syndrome bleeding from her pores. She actually thinks this:
“She’s lucky.” I hate myself for envying this women in Nigeria whose husband drives a cab halfway around the world, saving money to rescue her from whatever hell Nigeria currently offers. It sounds like a fairy tale. She might as well be in an ivory tower. So romantic - beautiful even. Their struggle.
I feel like Portia's unlikable aspects are supposed to be balanced out by our sympathy for her situation. If that was the case, it didn't work for me.
While home, Portia attempts to restore her faith in humanity and goodness by helping out a depressed ex-high school teacher. Enter Nate Vernon and his perspective. Vernon has been ruminating on the subject of suicide ever since an unfortunate incident forced him into early retirement (and more than a touch of alcoholism). He spends his days talking to his dog - Albert Camus. The events of this novel are so subtle and boring that anything could be a spoiler so I'll tag this bit just in case... (view spoiler)[Albert Camus literally leaps through Vernon's open window and dies. An event that causes Vernon to consider whether dogs can commit suicide. Oh my fucking god.(hide spoiler)]
After Vernon's perspective, we get two more. One from Sister Maeve Smith - a nun and Vernon's mother - who writes letters to her son from beyond the grave (that's right, she's dead). And another from Chuck Bass, a guy who has had a crush on Portia for twenty years and sadly isn't the hot guy from Gossip Girl.
In terms of plot, it's simply this: people get very drunk and then "save themselves". Kind of. But really it's just a mishmash of weirdness, quirks, ideas and perspectives. I can't say I enjoyed any of it or really cared about the fate of the characters. It was too bloated and messy, full of many different components that never came together and made a satisfying whole.
Delia knew something someone didn’t want her to know, that’s for damn sure. And she threatened to tell. So whose secret was it? And what were they wiDelia knew something someone didn’t want her to know, that’s for damn sure. And she threatened to tell. So whose secret was it? And what were they willing to do to make her keep it?
Lovely cover, intriguing title, nothing new or special for the most part, until a cheap twist comes flying in towards the end.
This book was all kinds of messy. Typical bitchy high-school drama that tries to follow in the footsteps of Gone Girl, but ends up being laughably cheesy, rather than an interesting psychological thriller. Plus, it seems like a mistake to market this as "Gone Girl meets Thirteen Reasons Why" when that makes it really easy to see the "twist" coming.
I've read multiple variations of the "girl commits suicide but - oh my - it might not really be a suicide and now the best friend must solve this murder case without consulting the police" story. Do they ever work? Not that I can remember. Mostly because I have little patience for stupid people and there's something inherently stupid about finding evidence that someone might have been murdered and launching your own investigation.
This one, however, is particularly sensational. June and Delia used to be friends but "something happened". June gets a voice mail from Delia the day of her alleged suicide, and then Delia's ex-boyfriend turns up and announces that she didn't kill herself. So June throws herself into a private investigation that gets more and more unbelievable as it progresses.
The plot goes a little crazy - from drugs to cheating to pregnancy to abortion to rape - and June's characterization is a little off. Her first discovery is that *gasp* Delia is involved with a drug dealer. June's initial reaction implies that she is terrified and clueless at the thought of drugs (I mean, like, marijuana's that herb they put in tacos, right?) Then, all of a sudden, she's infiltrating the drug dealer's lair (okay, going to his house, but remember - this is a dramatic book).
Some people were surprised by the ending, but I think so much gives it away. There's too many clues in the marketing, for a start. And not only is it easy to guess, but I think it weakens the story even further. Delia's somewhat complex character dissolves into just one more cliche.
“My invisible wounds. I have no answer, no proof I bleed. But I bleed. Sure as I love my mother and you, I bleed.”
Fell of Dark is a strange book. It“My invisible wounds. I have no answer, no proof I bleed. But I bleed. Sure as I love my mother and you, I bleed.”
Fell of Dark is a strange book. It's incredibly well-written, cleverly using language and metaphor to portray two boys' descent into madness. And it is primarily a book that explores the characters and their situations through the use of language - whether it be fragmented sentences, powerful metaphors or single-word paragraphs.
It's one of those books that leave me torn over whether it was right to market it as a YA book. On one hand, I'm thrilled that authors are writing smart, thought-provoking books for teenagers; on the other, I find it hard to imagine most teens having the patience to sit through it. It requires something from the reader - it requires you to think. There's no possibility of cruising through this book and taking it at face value.
It's about two boys - Erik and Thorn - and features lengthy sections from their POVs at ages 14, 16 and 18. Erik, a boy who was abducted as a child shortly after his father died, addresses his narrative to his future wife:
“I remember the first time I thought of you. I was so sick, and I almost died from dehydration and a fever. I thought of you, invented you, I guess, and you bent down over me, and you kissed me, and I got better.”
Thorn is constantly abused - by his parents at home, and by the bullies at school. As well as this, he hears voices in his head, directing his actions; he calls them Sawmen, Guardians, and the Architect. Both perspectives are dark and disturbing, both difficult to read, but both incredibly effective.
I can see why the ratings for Fell of Dark are not so impressive. It's a complex read for the average adult, never mind for teenagers, and I can see why some people also wouldn't like the experimental style of the prose - but, strangely, I really did. For me, this book was haunting and atmospheric. It really demonstrates how an author can use words to create a creepy feeling of encroaching madness.
The most unsettling books about insanity, in my opinion, start with everyday events and thoughts that we all do and have. Then, gradually, they become darker, become something else. It's unsettling because it suggests that none of us are that far away from madness - not far away from the blood that only we can see, not far away from those voices that whisper awful things in our heads. It's a scary thought.
I opened with that quote for a reason - while definitely entertaining, More Happy Than Not is a dark, sad book that
“This is still an ugly world.”
I opened with that quote for a reason - while definitely entertaining, More Happy Than Not is a dark, sad book that deals with homophobia, depression and suicide. The quirky dialogue and nerdy references to comic books, Star Wars and action heroes are much needed to lighten up an otherwise very distressing novel.
Personally, I do not think the promised big twist is particularly hard to guess if you've read the description and (view spoiler)[seen the movie this is being compared to (hide spoiler)], but I don't think much hangs on it anyway. Because this book is an overlapping of several stories and themes, each one as powerful as the last. It's about coming to terms with ones sexuality, it's about friendship, it's about memory and forgetting, it's a love story, and it's about choosing to be happy, despite the sad.
Oh, and it's also one of the most diverse books I've ever read. And, unlike other books that try to do many things at once, all the many themes are executed well.
"From the shapes cast by the green paper lantern, you would never know that there were two boys sitting closely to one another trying to find themselves. You would only see shadows hugging, indiscriminate."
The story is about Aaron, who is trying to pick himself up after both his father's suicide and his own attempted suicide. He can't turn to his family or guy friends, and his girlfriend tries to be supportive but Aaron doesn't really feel able to talk to her either. When sweet, eccentric Thomas comes along, he's everything Aaron needs in his life and more. Suddenly, Aaron has to deal with the realization that he's gay in a place where being gay isn't welcomed, or choose to not deal with it - by going to the Leteo institute and having his memories taken away.
Obviously a book about depression, suicide and homophobia would be sad, but I think it's the other little things that make More Happy Than Not an emotional read. Like the suggestion running behind every event in the book that sometimes life doesn't turn out the way you wanted it to and you don't always get what you longed for, and the message that wiping it all away (either through suicide or memory loss) isn't the answer. And the fact that wiping away memories doesn't change who you are.
And the love story. Don't be fooled into thinking this is another cute teen romance, though it definitely is cute at times. It's built up gradually through friendship, geekery and mutual understanding, until it's something else...
“He rubs his face and his eyes squint; a tear escapes. “You didn’t have to take my side, Stretch.” I kind of, sort of, definitely always will.
I'm serious, though, this isn't a nice book. You've been warned. The teens might have cute moments, but they're also real teens who masturbate, watch porn and curse (though there's not a lot of profanity if that bothers you). And ALL the characters are well-developed, confused and often funny.
In short, More Happy Than Not is a blend of light and dark, happiness and not-happiness, and it's incredibly effective. If I were cheesy I'd call it unforgettable. Ah well, it's nearly Friday so... it's unforgettable. Go read it.
“Can we go back and sit down? Dancing is for girls.” “I am a girl, Mitchell,” replies Medusa, “and try telling The Devil that.” We both look over at t“Can we go back and sit down? Dancing is for girls.” “I am a girl, Mitchell,” replies Medusa, “and try telling The Devil that.” We both look over at the master of Hell, who has cleared the dance floor with his moshing.”
I know humour is subjective, but I found this book hilarious. As in, laugh-out-loud oh-no-people-are-looking-at-me hilarious. Seriously, it's dangerous to read this in a public place.
I'm not even much of a comedy person. Give me fast-paced, angsty drama over giggles any day. But this book was such delicious fun. It's about Mitchell Johnson, who got hit by a bus and now works in Hell as the Devil's intern. When a device surfaces that can send people back in time, Mitchell suddenly sees an opportunity to prevent his own death and get the hell out of there (pun intended).
It's full of snarky humour. The dynamics between Mitchell and his friends make this book so so funny. There's the feisty Medusa - Mitchell's best friend who sarcastically gives him crap all the time. There's Elinor - a girl from 17th-Century London who died in the Great Fire of 1666. And there's Alfarin - an enormous, warm-hearted Viking prince. And that's before we even get to the Devil himself - a total drama queen.
The story behind the humour is compelling and doesn't neglect to consider the time travel paradox, but this is definitely a book for those looking for some pure entertainment. The characters bicker; Mitchell is a regular confused teenage boy, trying to understand girls; the author's comic-timing is PERFECT. Such an enjoyable read. It's a shame that it's so difficult to adequately describe the merits of humour books - I just recommend you go read it.
I'll leave you with this little scene so you can see what Mitchell and Medusa's relationship is like:
I shift her weight a little and she falls even closer against me. She smells like clean sheets, which is really nice and reminds me of my mom and my old bed and my old life. “You smell like sleep.” “I smell like sheep?” “What? That’s not what I said.” “You said I smell like sheep.” “Sleep, not sheep.” “How can someone smell like sleep? It’s a verb. Verbs don’t smell.” “I meant you smell like clean sheets.” “Are you saying I usually smell like dirty sheets?” “Forget I opened my mouth.” “You said I smell like sheep.” “I said you smell like sleep. I was trying to be cute. I thought girls like guys who are cute.”
When a book becomes one of the most-read books of the week/month on Goodreads but maintains a barely respectable average rating of 3.6, there are usuaWhen a book becomes one of the most-read books of the week/month on Goodreads but maintains a barely respectable average rating of 3.6, there are usually one of two reasons for it:
1) The book is an objectively well-written, pretentious masterpiece that everyone thinks they should read but no one really likes.
Or 2) Some marketing guru thought it would be a good idea to - wrongly - pitch the book as the next Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Gone Girl... etc.
In this case, it's the second reason. Luckiest Girl Alive is Gone Girl's boring, less clever, younger sister. It's a tale devoid of emotional connection of any kind, introducing a narrator who establishes herself as a cold-hearted bitch on the first page and continues to seal the title of "unlikable narrator" by analyzing, judging and hating every woman she has ever known.
I really, really hate it when people say this, so I'm sorry, but I think so much about this book was a case of "trying too hard". I know, I know, what the fuck does that mean?? Well, here it means that the author created a villainous caricature, rather than a complex character. Authors like Gillian Flynn write women who ruminate on human behaviour, who dissect the world around them with a nihilistic flair; Knoll tries to do the same, but it's too forced.
Amy Dunne is so great because there's grains of truth in her insanity (we know all about the "cool girl"); Ani FaNelli, on the other hand, is just mindlessly ranting to demonstrate her own inner crazy-bitchness. When Amy Dunne offered some insight into the way people behave, I found myself nodding and understanding exactly what she meant; when Ani FaNelli bitchily finds fault with everyone around her, I was rolling my eyes.
Plus, it was freaking boring. We're promised all these secrets and revenge but, frankly, I never cared. Ani is so annoying and her inner narrative so very tedious. She spends way too much time pulling apart what other women are wearing - I honestly do not give a flying fuck if that bag is Chanel or if those leather pants are real - and making judgments based upon it; judgements that I suppose are to indicate how observant and twistedly insightful our protagonist is.
There is no emotion in this book. It deals with serious issues like rape and even they are glossed over with nary an emotion in sight. The glaring problem was that I never felt a reason to care about anything. Not the characters. Not the story. Such a dull read.
Immaculate's premise is so intriguing that I had to check it out, despite not usually being a fan of religious bo
“This is the story of a miracle.”
Immaculate's premise is so intriguing that I had to check it out, despite not usually being a fan of religious books or those dealing with teen pregnancy. I first wondered if things were going to be not as they first appear in the blurb, but no, this is exactly what it seems to be: a modern immaculate conception. And it was pretty damn compelling and interesting.
I'm not religious in any sense, but the reason I think this book works is because religion is more of a sub-theme behind the central issues of family, friendship, bullying and finding out who you can really trust. At the heart of the original Bible story about Jesus' birth is a story of a young girl who has an impossible situation thrust upon her. How must it feel to be so young and have something so crazy happen to you? How do you get people to believe something that shouldn't be possible?
This is the place Mina finds herself. After an old woman comes into her workplace and makes some strange statements about "her baby", Mina is suddenly pregnant, despite never having had sex. Friends turn their back on her, her boyfriend dumps her, her father thinks she's lying. The situation escalates and soon everyone knows and believes they have a right to judge her. This is what the story is about - the practicalities of dealing with something like this, rather than the religious aspect.
Of course, Mina is forced to confront her own beliefs for the first time. But this book is not pushing any one religion and Mina researches many different religions and beliefs. In fact, when the "message" is delivered, no mention of "God" is made. I feel like some readers may be dissatisfied with the ambiguity, but I appreciated it more than I would have appreciated a straight-up Christian novel.
Immaculate is not really about Christianity or immaculate conception - those are trimmings - it's actually about a girl dealing with a huge change in her life's direction; it's about the positive aspects of faith and the dangers of religious extremism; and it's about the capacity to try and believe in the impossible, believe in the people you love.
I thought it was an excellent take on a concept that could so easily have been terrible and preachy.
It demonstrates how a narrator caDaughter of Deep Silence demonstrates how an author can tell you one thing, but show something completely different.
It demonstrates how a narrator can take centre stage, metaphorically throw her hands in the air and declare herself an unlikable and complex character hell-bent on revenge, but never give any indication that she's anything more than an incompetent fool who lusts after a boy she believes is involved in her parents' deaths.
People love them these days: the unlikable narrators. The complex individuals. The revenge-seekers. From Kill Bill to The Count of Monte Cristo to Black Iris, we just love it when an author can take a character we shouldn't love and peel back the layers of their mind until we understand them and sympathize with them. I've given books high ratings for having such characters.
BUT sometimes, often in YA, authors cheat. They give us fake unlikable narrators that actually - when you take a closer look - never do or think anything the average person wouldn't. Oh, you don't care if the people involved in your loved ones' deaths die? Well, whoop-de-doo, neither would fucking I. Oh, you harbor feelings of resentment towards the people that ruined your whole life? Goddamn, you must be evil.
It's bullshit. Frances can say whatever the hell she wants about being all broody and vengeful but, in reality, all she wants is to get together with Grey - the guy who at best is covering up a mass homicide, at worst actually helped cause it. In fact, I felt the book breezed over the events of her parents' deaths without emotion; the real feelings being reserved for when she's in Grey's sexy arms.
The book opens with Frances being rescued after spending seven days adrift at sea, following an armed attack on the Persephone in which her parents were killed. The only other survivors - Grey and his father - lie to the press and say it was a rogue wave that brought down the boat. Her friend Libby died on the raft before they were rescued and Libby's father is the only one who will believe Frances' story. So he encourages Frances to pretend to be Libby (coincidentally, they look alike), in order to avoid people coming after her. Four years later, Frances - "Libby" - returns for revenge. Or so she says.
Let's look at the reality.
Frances says: "Everything about me is perfected and polished, and thoroughly, thoroughly Libby."
The reality: The very first time she really needs to pretend to be Libby, she calls Libby's dad "Cecil". “The whole point of hosting this thing is because the Senator supported Cecil’s efforts along the coast.” Shepherd stares at me for a long moment. “So you call him Cecil now?" So you've perfected the art of being Libby but - oops! - you can't even remember to call her dad "Dad"?
Frances says: "The only brightness in the black I’d plunged myself into. Truth. Another, darker word followed quickly after. Revenge."
The reality: “But there’s another part of me that only cares that, after all these years, I’m finally in his arms again.”
Frances says: "Rage is a powerful emotion. Strong enough not just to burn away the pain but also sear back the whispering tendrils of fear.”
The reality: "Yet, somehow, this is the situation I’ve found myself in. Desperate for him to continue loving the girl I used to be."
And don't even get me started on that part where she goes out alone at night to meet up with a guy she believes to be involved in a mass homicide. Shepherd expresses concern for her safety and she's like "I'm badass, whatever."
Revenge? Yeah, right. This is another angsty love story with a stupid heroine.
Never has a poor execution of a brilliant concept ever hit me so hard. Because this book had the potential to be amazing. It's the most feminist CindeNever has a poor execution of a brilliant concept ever hit me so hard. Because this book had the potential to be amazing. It's the most feminist Cinderella retelling I've ever read and the message behind it was PERFECT. Too bad it was so painfully dull.
Let's get it out of the way: despite the similar premise, this book is absolutely nothing like Cinder. It is not about a cyborg Cinderella, it's more of a steampunk Fey book about a genius female mechanic. The writing, the setting and the circumstances do not even remotely resemble Meyer's book.
The story is about Nicolette who, like other Cinderellas before her, is an orphan at the mercy of her cruel Stepmother and Stepsisters. They treat her as a servant and demand that she do all the household chores. What they don't know is that Nicolette has a talent for engineering and keeps her inventions locked away in her mother's old workroom. She intends to sell her machines at market and make enough money to get away.
As a basic concept, this is fantastic. She doesn't want to go to a ball and be rescued by a prince; nope, Nicolette wants to save herself, be self-sufficient, get away by her own efforts. This book is not a romance and the author puts emphasis on the importance of female friendship. You see why I so wanted it to be good?
But there's no climax. It is literally the story of a mechanics business - a girl builds machines, goes to market, gets money for them and... that's basically the plot. So many lengthy descriptions of machines and making other things:
I could produce a basic knitting machine, start to finish, in only an hour now. The beadwork went quickly too, and I began experimenting with finer glass craft: more intricate boxes and bowls, covers for my machines, and floral pendants.
I'm sorry to say it, but - who cares???
You know those books where you like the idea and keep waiting and waiting to be hooked into it, thinking just around the corner the story will pick up and make you fall in love? Those books where you wait and wait and suddenly the book's over and you're left feeling like "That's it?!" This is one of those books. Nothing exciting happens.
I can't recommend this boring book, but the ending is worth knowing even if you don't plan to read it. In other reviews I've read, everyone seems to hate the ending - and I understand why - but I honestly thought it was wonderful. So here it is, spoiler-tagged for you:
(view spoiler)[She turns him down! She realizes he doesn't love her like she loves him and she turns him down!
And I had found not only a kind, charming, handsome young man whom I could love, but also a prince, the Heir to all of Esting! No story could have asked for a better ending than the one that — just for a moment — I’d thought my love for him would give me.
But what was I, without that ending?
No less me, no less myself. No less loved than I had ever been, not really.
Some secrets are meant to stay secret forever. Just ask Pandora.
The Husband's Secret is a decent book, but I honestly expected to enjoy it a lot morSome secrets are meant to stay secret forever. Just ask Pandora.
The Husband's Secret is a decent book, but I honestly expected to enjoy it a lot more than I did. I love mysteries that focus on the characters and their relationships with each other; and I love reading about morally questionable people, especially women. I find complex relationships between women to be fascinating - woven with friendship, jealousies and secrets - but I found this book superficial and, at times, even boring.
Firstly, the titular "secret" is not a mystery and is so easy to guess immediately that I was hoping it would be something else. Secondly, I think the "secret" and the details behind it are not very interesting and - despite it being a serious issue - it doesn't feel particularly scandalous or exciting. You open this book just like Pandora opening her box/jar, promised this huge secret by the title and blurb, and yet for me it was very anticlimactic.
It gets three stars because Moriarty writes about selfish, depressed and troubled middle-class women very well. The dialogue and dynamics between them are funny, entertaining and contain those rare pieces of human honesty that only a few authors can achieve - little thoughts, feelings or behaviours that are personal and strange, but instantly recognizable and true.
In reality, the human reaction to certain situations - discovering a dark secret, being dumped for someone else, etc. - is not often what we think it should be. It's like when you play out meeting someone famous in your head and you think you know exactly what you would do, until you meet them and your plans fly out the window. In this book, I get the sense that Moriarty has tapped into real human reactions and behaviour - these women don't always feel and behave in a typical or conventional way, and yet it seems all the more real because of it.
But interesting character studies aside, it did get tiresome after a while. When you strip away the not so interesting mystery, this is a book about the relationships of a bunch of privileged middle-class woman. And there's really only so much of that I can take before I start losing interest.
"You watch the world. I'm not even sure you live in it."
It's so weird how nearly every 2015 YA book that promises fast-paced action and/or fantasy t"You watch the world. I'm not even sure you live in it."
It's so weird how nearly every 2015 YA book that promises fast-paced action and/or fantasy turns into a story about that guy (or guys) with the beautiful eyes, and yet most YA books pitched as cutesy summer romances turn out to be powerful and moving coming-of-age stories. Between Us and the Moon is just that.
This is a story about Sarah - the baby of the family, who everyone calls "Bean". Her older sister, Scarlett, is the beautiful one, the popular one, the one who rebels and goes to parties; their parents don't even ask Sarah where she's going when she leaves the house because they know how sensible she is. They know she only wants to study comets and stars, and apply for a scholarship.
Except there's a different side to Sarah. One that is growing up in her sister's shadow. One that hurts inside when her aunt buys Scarlett beautiful slinky gowns and buys her pink frills instead. Like many teenagers, she's torn between the pull of who she is and the need to be someone likable and desirable. I thought it was an exceptionally honest portrait of a confused, scared, selfish teenage girl, right from the very first chapter.
“I want to be able to care about clothes and boys, but be good at science, too. I want to be both."
The book opens with Sarah being dumped by her boyfriend, Tucker. Following the advice of her amazing, gay, hippie grandmother, Sarah decides that she does not need this stupid boy and will continue applying for her scholarship and being awesome (hell yeah!). But, of course, she's an insecure teenager and things aren't quite so simple. She wants to understand why her sister is this popular goddess and no one looks twice at her. And to understand that, she does what she does best - a science experiment.
“Scarlett does and says specific things that make people want to be around her all the time. Just like Becky. There has to be a direct correlation between Scarlett’s specific behaviour and style to the response of acceptance and popularity.”
I know some readers won't like that Sarah essentially tries to change who she is and wear different clothes because she gets dumped by a guy - I respect that - but I also think there's an important lesson to be learned here, in the end. I remember a little something about trying to become someone else to fit in back in high school, so this book made me a little nostalgic and sad. Sarah was selfish at times but I sympathized with her and felt her sadness and frustration at every turn.
Between Us and the Moon does have a romance that is central to the story, but I think it acts as the stage on which the author plays out the themes of growing up and learning to accept who you are. I personally didn't get as much of a sense of the "forbidden" from Sarah's relationship with Andrew. She's sixteen and he's nineteen (nearly twenty), which might cause issues with maturity but is still completely legal in the U.K. Though while that didn't come across, I enjoyed reading about them together.
My favourite thing about the book was Sarah's growth. Both her personal growth and the development of her relationships with her family members. So many lessons to be learned. Her family has to see her in a new light, as she grows up, and she also has to realize that there's more to them than she first thought. There were some really great family dynamics that left me feeling quite emotional at times.
On the one hand, as with part one, I found this book to be written in an extremely compellingI cannot decide how I want to rate Never Never: Part Two.
On the one hand, as with part one, I found this book to be written in an extremely compelling way. I found it easy to sprint through chapter after chapter, unlocking more questions and mysteries as I went along. Unlike with some of the authors' other work, nothing about the plot or the characters irritated me and I genuinely care and want to find out just what the hell is going on.
HOWEVER, I can see absolutely no reason Never Never has been serialized other than as a money-making ploy by the authors. It is not a series. It is clearly all part of the same story; the same book. The "parts" are just a collection of a few chapters and each one is not particularly long so I know it wasn't serialized for length reasons.
I guess it just bugs me that this "part" isn't anything close to resembling a full book that I can rate accurately. It's like taking a few chapters from a book and trying to decide what rating it deserves based on that small piece. Couldn't the authors have just waited and delivered a full book?...more
Hey! You there! Please listen. On May 19th this book will be released - on that day go to this page or this page or another retailer of your choice anHey! You there! Please listen. On May 19th this book will be released - on that day go to this page or this page or another retailer of your choice and download the free sample of this book. If, by the end of that small sample, you are not convinced that this book is amazing, never think of it again. BUT, I sincerely doubt that will be the case.
Because it took me ONE CHAPTER - well, a few pages really - to make me realize that this book was going to steal every bit of my spare time until I'd devoured it all. And it did. It was magical, surprising, incredibly well-written, and so very funny. And not funny in a Terry Pratchett comedy/fantasy kind of way, but just funny because these characters are so real and charming.
There are those well-drawn, vivid books that have great world-building, beautiful descriptions without being overly descriptive, and get lauded by critics. Then there are those books that are delicious chocolate-ice-cream-with-sprinkles pieces of entertainment that drag you in and just provide so much enjoyment. Uprooted is a rare beast - because it's both.
It's just so goddamn charming. It's exciting and creepy with regards to the plot and world, but it's made especially wonderful because of the character dynamics. Agnieszka and the Dragon are hilarious together - they operate with a kind of love/hate dynamic that makes for some really funny scenes and some heart-warming ones.
What a magical, though strangely honest and thoughtful book. I'm avoiding saying too much about the story because the blurb is deliberately vague for a reason, but I will give you a little something. Uprooted opens in a village where once every ten years, the Dragon (actually a man and wizard who rules over the land) comes and picks a seventeen year-old girl from the village and takes her to his palace. Nobody knows what happens to them, but they are not seen for the next ten years and they always come back changed.
It made me smile because it sounds a little like the premise for Cruel Beauty (which I loved) and A Court of Thorns and Roses (which I didn't love), but it's better and different than either of those. There's a touch of the romantic (and the heart-poundingly sexy), but Novik is both a tease and someone not concerned about being PG - which made the book infinitely better on that front than either of the other two mentioned.
Also, one of my favourite things was the creepy Wood - a literally evil forest that is alive with a dark corruption that will claim you if you ever enter it, or get touched by one of the monstrous beings that come out of the Wood. How weird and creative and scary... I LOVED it.
No one went into the Wood and came out again, at least not whole and themselves. Sometimes they came out blind and screaming, sometimes they came out twisted and so misshapen they couldn’t be recognized; and worst of all sometimes they came out with their own faces but murder behind them, something gone dreadfully wrong within.
I can't praise this book highly enough. I'm desperately trying to string together the right combination of words to make other people pick this up. I just hope I've been successful, because it was truly a magical, entertaining experience.
As Ashleigh Paige said: "It wasted all of its potential trying to be shocking when it should have tried to be smart."
Those Girls is an attempt to tuAs Ashleigh Paige said: "It wasted all of its potential trying to be shocking when it should have tried to be smart."
Those Girls is an attempt to turn bitchy, horrible, shallow teenage girls into a raw and meaningful book. Other authors have been successful in doing so - Courtney Summers, Leah Raeder and Sara Taylor to name but a few. However, those authors' mean, awful female characters were also interesting and not completely brain dead.
These characters are mindless and annoying; more like Gossip Girl but less entertaining. I don't even understand why they're being bitches half the time. And the author tries to shock us by immediately introducing sexually active teen girls - one of whom is using Plan B as birth control on a regular basis.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not trying to slut-shame anyone. I'm all for honest depictions of teenage girls who want and/or enjoy sex. I'm a feminist and very sex-positive. Female sexuality, ftw! Yay sluts!
“We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.”
I still fail to understand why Stephen King isn't considered a writer of "respected litera“We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.”
I still fail to understand why Stephen King isn't considered a writer of "respected literature". Because he writes sci-fi and horror? Because his books are so compelling, entertaining and popular? For me, King does what very few authors manage - he turns fast-paced genre fiction into well-written, thought-provoking literature.
And 11/22/63 is no exception. I've been putting this book off for the last few years; partly because it's an 800+ page giant, and partly because I studied the hell out of Kennedy and 1950s/60s America back in high school. But I find myself once again in that situation where I read a book I always meant to read and mentally kick myself for not giving in sooner.
This book is fantastic. Some of its critics don't like the crossover of many genres, claiming it "wanders from genre to genre". However, I loved how this book was many things. It's an extremely well-researched piece of historical fiction; it's a fascinating look at time travel science fiction (is it possible to change the past? What is the cost of doing so?); it's a small town thriller; and it's a love story.
King has this strange way of turning the most fantastical plots into stories about people who feel very real. He writes detailed and honest character portraits, so that these characters become so vivid and realistic, likable and flawed, that we so easily believe in everything that happens to them.
If you don't already know, this book is about a man called Jake Epping who - through his friend, Al - discovers a portal that takes him to 1958, where he takes over Al's obsessive mission to prevent the Kennedy assassination. He establishes a new life in the past, in a world filled with big American cars, rock'n'roll, and shameless racism, sexism and homophobia.
The amount of research King did is evident. He paints an intricate portrait of this time - simultaneously portraying an exciting, dreamy era full of different fashions, music, and the best root beer ever for 10 cents... and showing the darker side: segregation and the two doors and three signs - "Men" on one door, "Women" on the other door, and "Colored" leading to a plank of wood over a small stream. He makes this era seem like a bright, amazing, creepy nightmare.
I thoroughly enjoyed it. Unlike some of King's other works, the 800 pages didn't feel like too much to me and they just seemed to fly by. So glad I finally read it.
Holy shit, this was entertaining. Not perfect - there were some issues I had - but seriously, who cares when a book is this unputdownable?
"The UncleaHoly shit, this was entertaining. Not perfect - there were some issues I had - but seriously, who cares when a book is this unputdownable?
"The Unclean were hiding in plain sight, among us. Breeding their own hosts. Existing right under the Church’s nose."
The Stars Never Rise is a fast-paced, gritty blend of dystopia and urban fantasy. Set in a future America that has been ravaged by demons who possess human bodies and some other creepy zombie-like monsters called Degenerates, a new governing body has emerged - The Unified Church.
The Church demands strict obedience, punishes sins and, in return, sends its trained exorcists out to defend civilians from the demonic threat. Nina Kane, however, is a little bit more concerned about making enough money to feed herself and her sister, Melanie. Their mother is a drug addict who stumbles home at dawn and sleeps throughout the day, so Nina must do whatever she can to survive and provide for them. But when Melanie reveals a secret that could have dire consequences for the whole family, it sparks a series of events that will change both their lives forever.
Aside from just being enjoyable as hell, the book has many things I love: sisters looking out for each other, great secondary characters, a touch of humour amid the action and nastiness. Not to mention a heroine I really liked, who was flawed and tough:
"If I was going down, I would go down fighting."
Hell yeah, girl.
I will also talk about some of the minor complaints I had, though it should be noted that even the problems I had with this book have huge BUTs after them.
Firstly, I thought the first and last thirds of the book were really strong but that third in the middle was weaker. I would say the budding romance comes far behind everything else, but it seems to be a necessary component of every YA novel these days, so it did come into play. When the love interest was first introduced, I was a bit bored and couldn't wait to get back to the serious stuff. However - here's the BUT - the author actually really surprised me. There's a romance happening in this series but it's... not what I first thought. To be honest, I've never read one quite like it. So maybe not so much of a negative after all.
My second issue was also kind of "fixed" later on. Basically, the character of Devi is introduced as a typical mean girl who seemed to dislike Nina for no good reason. I hate it when authors create female characters for the sole reason of adding a bit of girl-on-girl hate/jealousy angst. BUT, she's not the throwaway character I worried she might be. In fact, I'd say she's a source of some much-needed bitchy, hilarious cynicism. And she's pretty much the smartest character in the whole book. Looking forward to seeing more of her in the next installment.
I don't think it's difficult to see some of the "reveals" coming, but the characters, the action and the sheer pull of the author's writing are so good that I didn't really care. I also really like that the ending doesn't feel like a cliffhanger but, at the same time, opens up the story and the world of the novel into something bigger and scarier. It made me even more excited for the sequel.
There's potential for a really great series here. Here's hoping for even more action, more surprises and more of these characters being funny and awesome in the next book. Also, I think there's a great opportunity for discussion about what it really means to be human... I hope the author takes advantage of that.