Have you ever finished a book and have no idea how to review because you're not even sure you fully understood the depths of the story? That's about w...moreHave you ever finished a book and have no idea how to review because you're not even sure you fully understood the depths of the story? That's about where I am now.
Because this book is convoluted-ly creepy, and often confusingly portrayed in a series of scattered journal entries, and I spent most of the book wondering if it actually was all how the MC believed it to be or was she mentally ill ... Yet, at the same time, the book is also so compelling that I couldn't stop reading. And I didn't even feel particularly let down upon reaching the end and feeling as though all of the answers weren't provided to my satisfaction.
In other words, it wasn't wrapped up with a nice big bow. But I didn't care, because it's the kind of story I will likely spend some days musing over--just as I did after watching the likes of Donnie Darko and The Butterfly effect. Which I think must make this speculative fiction pretty damned fine, in my mind. However, I''m still deciding on that.
And as for giving a rundown on the plot for the review? I can't do it. Not without fully explaining the book in it's entirety, and, dang, that would take some doing. Besides, I think the blurb pretty much says it all.
If you like riddles and creepiness and books that leave you scratching your head and thinking a little too hard, then you'll most likely enjoy this one, too. (less)
The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman is totally unlike anything I’ve read before. Not only have I never read a graphic novella (o...moreThe Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman is totally unlike anything I’ve read before. Not only have I never read a graphic novella (or novel, even) before, but the story itself is of a totally new-to-me style. Maybe I should just pause to mention that this was my first Gaiman experience, too.
Throughout the read, we witness a journey between two men—I won’t say gentlemen, as I’m unsure they’re good candidates for the title—and from the very first moment, the reader is kept guessing as to the grander scheme of things. And the farther these two men journey, the more snippets of clues are dropped, in tales they share with each other, in narration shared with the reader alone, until we near the final stretch of their travels to this almost mythical location and the puzzle pieces all rearrange themselves in our mind to reveal a bigger picture.
And I loved this about the story. I loved how we received just the right dose of everything at exactly the prescribed times, enabling us to follow along without even realising we’re doing so. More so, I loved how the images accompanying the story added such a vivid vibrancy, despite the dark undertones of even that aspect of the book, and I loved how those, coupled with words, ensured I could ‘see’ their journey every step of the way.
I would say, however, that the label of ‘graphic novella’ alone doesn’t really do the package in its entirety enough justice. Because the images are outstanding, and outstandingly fitting. It was like having a shadowed and twisted kiddies picture book in my hands—but for adults—one presented with such amazing quality, it has earned its rightful place upon my bookcase, where it shall likely live until I deem another worthy of handing it down to in my grandmotherly years. (less)
Boy21 … man, so many feels I don’t know where to start.
Okay, so we have Finley, who thinks, despite being poor, he has pretty much all he needs in li...moreBoy21 … man, so many feels I don’t know where to start.
Okay, so we have Finley, who thinks, despite being poor, he has pretty much all he needs in life: Erin and basketball. However, when new guy Russ moves into town and coach assigns Finley the task of befriending Russ, Finley has no idea just how much his life is about to change. Because there’s a lot more to coach’s request than meets the eye.
Meet Russ. Ex-awesome basketball player, son of famous basketball player, and damaged teen due to the recent deaths of both parents, Russ comes home to live with his grandparents. And he’s definitely damaged, and coping in the only way he knows how, in the only way he knows to stay close to his parents—but it’s a way that not many people will understand, or tolerate.
Coach, however, has a connection to Russ’s father, and he’s seen Russ play, and truly believes the only way Russ can move forward is if he can get him playing ball again. For this, he needs Finley. And Finley can’t tell coach no—even if it will ultimately cost him one of the loves of his own life, his own chance to play ball.
To be honest, there are so many layers to Boy21, I don’t even know how to begin to describe the story in its entirety. It’s about friendship, and fighting for what you believe in. It’s about sacrifice and inner strength. It’s about dealing with loss, and having the willingness to lean on others for support—as well as recognising when you’re the one who needs to do the leaning. And around all of this is the story’s backdrop of the ghetto—which is so subtly done and downplayed—not in an unbelievable way, because the handling of this aspect just seemed to give it all the more credibility, but it’s so downplayed that you have no idea just where the story is headed, or how dark the path is these kids are following, or how all of the clues dropped to the reader throughout the book will finally weave together.
I don’t know how to explain it any deeper than that without giving an entire rundown of the story and potentially spoiling it for anybody. Just know that I loved pretty much every aspect of this book. I loved every one of the characters—how they were portrayed gave even the smallest of characters depth, which made them as unique as those in the forefront. I loved the descriptions—whilst they weren’t massively present, they were there enough for me. I loved the almost quirky way in which Russ handled his parents death, and how helping Russ to deal with that also helped Finley to recognise and deal with his own. I didn’t love what happened regarding Erin, but not because I thought it made the story bad or didn’t fit, but because I loved the characters and didn’t want anything bad to happen to them. I loved how Finley was so strong and supportive of Russ, even when his narration made it clear that his head wasn’t always happy about the idea, and how his support and encouragement and acceptance helped bring Russ back from the secure bubble he’d wrapped himself, until Russ was the supportive one—because I also loved how unselfish Russ was in return when the roles were reversed and it was Finley who needed him.
And the ending … it was kind of bittersweet. But in these kinds of settings, when the road to the finale is a rough one, there’s very rarely any other way for it to end. Yet it was still beautiful. Beautifully sad, and painfully heart-warming, and I cried, actually cried, through the last page or so. Seriously, this book gave me a lot of feels. It’s the kind of book I would pick up again to re-read just so I can experience those sad fuzzies all over again. Definitely, definitely, will be recommending this to anyone who’ll listen. And I’ll definitely be seeking out more work by Matthew Quick. (less)
Let me just begin by saying I LOVED Amanda Sun’s Ink, and so I could. Not. Wait. To dive into Rain. To begin, I was smiling and happy when we get suck...moreLet me just begin by saying I LOVED Amanda Sun’s Ink, and so I could. Not. Wait. To dive into Rain. To begin, I was smiling and happy when we get sucked straight back into Katie’s life, and more so when she meets back up with Tomohiro and he’s concernedly happy that she didn’t leave for her grandparents after all. I also loved how easy it was to slip back into seeing all of the Japanese language. One of the great things about my Rain ARC was that EVERY SINGLE JAPANESE WORD is lInked to a description of it, so whenever I came across a word I didn’t understand, I just had to ‘click’ hop over, read the English translation, and ‘click’ hop back.
In Ink, one of my most favourite parts of the book was the educational and enlightening side of learning about a different culture. Next to that was learning about the Japanese mythology side of the tale, because it made such a change from all of the Greek mythology currently about. Whilst the cultural side of the series wasn’t so much in the forefront this time, although it was certainly adhered to and still present enough to keep me happy, the mythology seemed to take a step up. We learn a lot more in Rain about how Katie ties into it all, about why she affects the Ink, and it also ties in with Jun’s interest in her.
Because, yup, Jun is all over Katie in Rain. And this has both its upsides and its downsides. Upsides, because it fits, because there is background there to highlight his behaviour toward Katie. Downsides because, as with all good love triangles, Katie is too dumb to see his ulterior motives and manipulations for what they are. Katie being Katie only wants to believe the best of Jun, and so gives him the benefit of the doubt. However, when she begins questioning her own ‘attraction’ toward Jun, and even allows Jun to take advantage of that, then I’m going to start questioning the solidity of her feelings toward Tomohiro—which is who I want this to be all about, no matter how rocky the road may be for them. In Ink, the connection between Tomo and Katie, and the way Tomo fought his attraction to protect Katie, watching them overcome that—it’s often the romance in a book that keeps me reading, and I was no different when reading Ink. However, in Rain, the romance aspect between Tomo and Katie seemed overshadowed by her antics and discretions and disloyalty where Jun stepped into the mix. That being said, it’s an irk I had to deal with, because, as already mentioned, it kind of tied into the bigger scheme of things.
However, another aspect that was thrown in here was Tomo’s pregnant friend with a crush on him. Whist I didn’t mind her outright feelings toward him—especially as in the opening of the book, she believed Katie was out of the picture and that she had Tomo all to herself again—and I didn’t mind her behaviour toward Katie because, let’s face it, girls are bitchy when there’s a guy they want at stake, and whilst I was even willing to ignore how irritating the irritants presence in the story is … I just can’t ignore the almost unnecessary meddling she did toward the end of the book. I won’t state what it is—if folk read, they’ll know when they get there—but I will state that it felt a) a little forced, and b) totally unneeded for the plot to continue going where it needed to go. In short, this could have been lost, I’d have been less irritated, and the outcome would still have been the same without a glitch to the story’s stride.
Now, before anyone jumps to the conclusion that I didn’t enjoy this very much, hold your horses. Because, although I’ll admit this didn’t floor me with its beauty and wowness like Ink did, there’s no denying that Rain is a great addition to this series all the same. It’s just that there were issues I felt could have been smoothed over better (or lost completely), and that would have put this one on the same level as the first book. And I also feel it would be unjust of me if I didn’t mention how much I love the Amanda Sun’s writing. Her descriptions are just the right amount of ooooh and just the right amount of aaaaah, and I adore how vivid a picture of Japan and the way of life there she paints in my mind. I love the journey she takes me on. I flipping love that I leave my living room for a while and become transplanted in a strange and foreign land yet feel totally at home. And I can’t wait to revisit when the next instalment arrives.
If you haven’t already tried this great series, you totally should. (less)
To be honest, I had to step away at the end of Jennifer E. Smith’s The Geography of You and Me to compile my thoughts and decide my views on it. I thi...moreTo be honest, I had to step away at the end of Jennifer E. Smith’s The Geography of You and Me to compile my thoughts and decide my views on it. I think this mostly has to do with the fact that the only Smith book I’d read prior to this was The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, and as I adored that book immensely, my expectations were very high before I’d even opened the first page. And sadly, whilst I did very much enjoy The Geography of You and Me, it didn’t wow me quite as much as the other did.
So let’s touch on the characters. I love Smith’s characters. They always seem to have a slightly whimsical air to them. A quirkiness. In the way that they’re different and aren’t afraid to be so. And Lucy especially fit this type. I loved following her side of the story. From feeling for her that she’d been left alone and that she felt abandoned by her parents, though she’d never admit it to herself, to being hauled to the UK, where she ends up moving to for her father’s job. How could anyone not feel sorry for this? I mean, going from being allowed to pretty much do whatever she wants and left to her devices, to a complete life upheaval—right after she’s met this dude she can’t stop thinking about.
Which leads us to Owen. Said dude. Whilst he’s didn’t charm me quite as much as I’d expected, I forgave him because he truly had good reason to not be an upbeat kind of guy. His mother recently died, leaving him and his father floundering and unsure of where they now fit in the world without her there to anchor them, and he, too, ends up unearthed right after meeting this girl called Lucy he can’t stop thinking about.
But all is not lost. Because, due to a joke shared during their initial and almost magical rooftop rendezvous regarding postcards, Owen sending them to Lucy fast becomes their ‘thing’. Just as emailing him and not expecting a response becomes her thing. I love their little interactions. Love their patience with the weird relationship and willingness to try and be understanding of one another, even though they’re no more than acquaintances who spent quality time together due to circumstance but whose memories of the other linger in their minds and hearts. There are some sad moments—and amongst those can be counted each of the MCs finding a boyfriend/girlfriend and almost losing their way toward each other. Though, even attempting to move on from a situation they’ve decided is impossible—and the reader is left hoping that they won’t have to.
Thankfully, after a bumpy one evening meeting that went horribly wrong before they went their separate ways again, Lucy comes to terms with the fact that she’s not over this guy, as well as learns that her views on her parents and their motivations—her mother in particular—were pretty far from the mark, and Owen and his father get the opportunity they need to move on in their lives with Owen’s mother. And both of these lead to an agreement to meet up with Owen and Lucy—which is such a lovely way to draw the book to an end.
Without a doubt, The Geography of You and Me is enough to make your heart swell and ache, and your eyes shine with smiles and tears, and your soul fill with sorrow and hope and adoration and yearning.
In short: this book is enough to make you feel young again. (less)
Ty Burdin is back in this sequel to Beasts of Burdin. Whilst a little of his snark and quick-comeback-wit is less prominent through mos...moreQuickie review:
Ty Burdin is back in this sequel to Beasts of Burdin. Whilst a little of his snark and quick-comeback-wit is less prominent through most of this book, his somber mood and personal issues he's dealing with give a very good reason for that. I will say, though, that his wit does slowly begin to reappear the closer to the end we get.
But fear not, because where Ty's snark is hiding, Nora's is stepping up to the plate and providing impressive swings of the bat in its place. I loved Nora's character in Beasts of Burdin, and I loved her even more within here. She sounds absolutely gorgeous, as nutty as a fruitcake (she has to be to put up with Ty as a boss) but creepily wise and intelligent, and keeps our Ty pretty much afloat. Not to mention there is definitely some very delicately woven romantic undertones between these two in this sequel--which makes me happy to no end.
Also, Ty's brother, Hartnet, makes more than one reappearance, which will definitely keep the ladies who're keen on him happy. I love how the two brothers end up fighting back to back again. I also loved the opportunity to see Burdin's TRUE potential when he ends up fighting with the most unlikely ally, during which some MASSIVE in-your-face hints are dropped that there just might be some interesting reveals about our Ty in the next book. Oh, and I can't help but wonder how Ty's new neighbour might slot into the grand scheme of things, too.
All in all, another decent addition to this series, with twists, sleuthing, mysteries, action, dodginess and, of course, demons.(less)
I headed into Sarah Lynn Scheeger’s The Opposite of Love, as I usually do, without reading the blurb. I’d pretty much been sold on the title and the c...moreI headed into Sarah Lynn Scheeger’s The Opposite of Love, as I usually do, without reading the blurb. I’d pretty much been sold on the title and the cover and thought I already had a clear idea of what the book would be about. Well, I did … and I didn’t. Because yes, it was a book about teen love and lust and relationships, and dealing with family and life in general—but it was also so much more than that, a tale of heartbreak and unfortunate circumstances and being strong enough to push forth. From the off I connected with Chase. I loved his voice. Loved his character. And that didn’t change as the book progressed. Yes, he came from a not-great background, and yes his home life was violently bad growing up, but for the most, that didn’t really affect who he was. Deep down, although he often worried about having the same violent tendencies he’d seen from his now absent dad, he fought them every step of the way. And even the time when he snaps and fails to hold his temper in check, the remorse he feels over it and the disgust he feels toward himself kind of redeem him—because he wants to be better and his actions and inner turmoil prove that he more than willing to make that happen. Especially when he reconnects with his father, whom he hasn’t seen since he walked out on them, and gets a surprise wakeup call of how everything could be. This aspect of the story, I found very refreshing. I love when authors don’t take the typical route with absent parents or divorced families, and Ms Scheeger definitely did this. Opposite Chase we have Rose. Whilst I wasn’t so keen on her ‘as a person’, because I smelled trouble all over her and worried about some of her intentions, I couldn’t help but emphasise with her, feel for her situation. Sure, she probably could’ve given her foster parents more of a chance, but kids and teens don’t have the same thought processes as adults, and they’re often more selfish, as well as seeing most things in shades of grey with little clarity. However, despite my rocky opening relationship with this character she surprised me once, and then continued to surprise me time and again, right the way up to the very end of the book. I don’t want to touch too much on the heart of what this book is about and what it’s leading up to because I, personally, didn’t catch on, I didn’t call it, and the Aha! moment was a pretty pivotal point in the book for me, so I refuse to take that away from other potential readers by shouting it out here. However, I will say that this book is about dealing with a very real circumstance and very real relationships, and the entire way in which it is written—two different timelines (then and now) interwoven in a paralleled kind of way—drags the reader forth trying to solve the mystery of the opening, and I didn’t want to stop right up until the very end. And the ending? It was so bittersweet it was almost painful—which really wasn’t helped by the fact that everything was pertained to more than outright stated. Decisions were hummed over, but weren’t absolute on the ends of all parties involved, and so the reader is left to assume that X/Y/Z must have happened after they turned the last page. That being said, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book too much, and this is certainly still a decent read worth checking out. (less)