I’ve always liked that phrase, “kill time.” As if time were some kind of evil dragon that needed to be slain. Unfortunately, like everything else inI’ve always liked that phrase, “kill time.” As if time were some kind of evil dragon that needed to be slain. Unfortunately, like everything else in the world, time dies of natural causes, year by year, hour by hour, second by second. It’s a veritable time massacre going on out here.
Parker Santé has been mute since his father died in a car accident they were both involved in. It’s been five years. He’s still a bit angry with his lot in life so he spends the majority of his time alone, killing time, frequenting hotels because he’s found its easy to steal from rich people there. After skipping school, he spends his day at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel where he meets a most intriguing girl by the name of Zelda Toth… after he tries to steal her money. Despite their rocky introduction, the two quickly form a solid yet palpable connection that develops through the power of storytelling. Parker’s talent for writing fictional stories and Zelda’s own personal story: that she’s far, far older than she actually looks.
This is my second Tommy Wallach story and most certainly won’t be my last. His stories have never fallen into the category I find myself typically reading, yet he manages to tactfully write the most authentic and captivating characters. Parker possesses a depth that goes beyond the typical story we’ve all read about where the kid loses a parent and subsequently removes himself from the normal world. He was unexpectedly hilarious in that sarcastic way I do love so much. What stands out from this already charming story are Parker’s short stories. At first, I found the idea of them to be somewhat of an ill-fitting piece of the puzzle and that they would essentially detract from the main story; at least I did until it returns to the main story and I suddenly wished to go back to his magical storytelling. They are captivating to say the least and Wallach’s ability to write multiple amazing stories within a single story is most notable. Zelda seemed to be the biggest issue for most readers, yet I found her to be well-written too. Instead of the manic pixie dream girl that at first glance seems like we’d be getting, there’s a depth to her as well, and a compelling background that makes her far from conventional.
Thanks for the Trouble is a contemporary story about experiencing life and learning to recognize the things we take for granted. It’s not completely contemporary though, with a magical realism flair that never gives you exact answers but instead leaves you contemplating. For the most part, contemplating what it would be like to live forever, and if it would be as fantastic as one would initially think. You never quite know what is real and what is make believe with this one but that is exactly what makes this such an enchanting read.
I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
Nimona is a shapeshifter. She’s also hilarious and set on world domination which is why she asked to join up with the designated villain of the kingdoNimona is a shapeshifter. She’s also hilarious and set on world domination which is why she asked to join up with the designated villain of the kingdom, Lord Ballister Blackheart. The two set out to bring down the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics as well as Blackheart’s bitter rival (and ex-best friend) Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin. Behind Nimona’s fantastic sense of humor is a seemingly somber past that we only see a hint of. The former web comic is now printed and bound and is sure to be loved.
Okay, so, despite my middle-of-the-road rating, I really did enjoy this. Nimona was hilarious and all over the place and the graphics were enjoyable as well. I wanted more character building though. The hints about Nimona’s past should have been more than just hints and the evil government was a bit too stereotypical. The board game scene had me absolutely dying because if I could breathe fire, that’s totally how it’d be like playing board games with me as well.
Not to be a party pooper or anything. I love seeing a young author being nominated. I love seeing a graphic novel being nominated. But in my opinion, it shouldn’t have made the cut, and that’s what my experiment is all about. Setting all that aside though, this is one for all you graphic novel lovers looking for a good laugh.
National Book Award Winner!! Congratulations, Neal!!
My experiment to read all NBA Finalists in Young People's Literature is complete! I have personallNational Book Award Winner!! Congratulations, Neal!!
My experiment to read all NBA Finalists in Young People's Literature is complete! I have personally selected Challenger Deep as the winner. We'll see who wins on 11/18! Read about my experiment and all nominees here.
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
‘Sometimes the darkness beyond is not glorious at all, it truly is an absolute absence of light. A clawing, needy tar that pulls you down. You drown but you don’t. It turns you to lead so you sink faster in its viscous embrace. It robs you of hope and even the memory of hope. It makes you think you’ve always felt like this, and there’s no place to go but down, where it slowly, ravenously digests your will, distilling it into the ebony crude of nightmares.’
Caden Bosch’s descent into schizophrenia takes readers on an unforgettable adventure that blurs the line between what’s real and what’s mere fantasy. Caden is a gifted artist at the age of fifteen years old yet he possesses an inner drive, a compulsion, that he can no longer keep quiet. His art becomes frenetic and he begins walking his town for hours based on a uncontrollable desire to fill the empty sidewalks with his presence. And sometimes his mind takes him elsewhere, where he’s a part of a crew on a galleon and their mission is to reach the deepest point of the Marianas Trench, a place called Challenger Deep.
‘The things I feel cannot be put into words, or if they can, the words are in no language anyone can understand. My emotions are talking in tongues.’
Ironically, this was my first read in my National Book Award experiment, yet it’s the last one I sat down to review. This was such a staggering read for me that it really took me some time to fully process Caden’s story and how it made me feel. I suppose the expected response is sadness and pity, but it was so authentically told that it transformed this story into something truly substantial for me. Despite the fantasy world that Caden lived in, his struggle becomes something real. We glimpse just enough of the outside world to realize how much his loved ones are also impacted and how they struggle to understand his inner turmoil. How his parents plead with him to change his behavior when it’s well past the point of his ability, so he’s placed in a mental institution when they don’t know what else to do for him. Almost in defiance of such a melancholy story, is the subtle (yet effective) humor that is laced throughout.
“If you continue making progress,” one of the nurses told me earlier today, “I see no reason why you shouldn’t be going home in a couple of weeks.” Then she added, “But don’t quote me on that.” Noncommittal is rampant among the committed.
Sprinkled throughout this story are various pieces of art which are original pieces from the authors son, Brendan Shusterman. The story itself exists solely because of the experiences of Brendan who has personally struggled with mental illness, which makes sense as to why this story rang so true for me. Challenger Deep will certainly leave readers who haven’t suffered personally to gain more of an understanding and compassion for those that do....more
‘Because we don’t have your typical gaps around here. Not gaps made of rocks or mountains. We have gaps in the world. In the space of things. So many‘Because we don’t have your typical gaps around here. Not gaps made of rocks or mountains. We have gaps in the world. In the space of things. So many places to lose yourself, if you believe that they’re there. You can slip into the gap and never find your way out. Or maybe you don’t want to find your way out.’
Finn O’Sullivan was the only witness to the kidnapping of Roza, his brother Sean’s girlfriend. But when he wrestles with his memories trying to recall the face of the man that took her, he also remembers that she didn’t really put up a fight. So maybe she wanted to leave? It only seemed natural, after their mother left Finn and Sean as well so it would make sense for Roza to do the same. No one in the town believes his story, especially since the only way he can describe the man who took her is that he “moves like a cornstalk in the wind.“
Bone Gap, at first glance, appears to be your typical small-town in America where everyone knows everyone’s business no matter how private you strive to keep it. There’s the local brothers that go around bullying people, there’s the rumor spreading and gossip mongering, but then there’s an offhand note about the corn that whispers softly to Finn. The basis of this story stems from the abduction of Persephone myth, which when I realized this made it all the more fascinating. It’s quite evident once you realize this even if it’s only loosely inspired. Pomegranates still manage to make an appearance, there’s the subtle reference to the garden that stopped flourishing as soon as she was gone, and the corns presence in the story becomes much less Children of the Corn when you take into account the connection between it and Persephone’s return.
There are so many enigmatic facets to this story that I could discuss but it likely wouldn’t make much sense to someone who hadn’t already experienced this story. Because an experience is exactly what this story is. Its world-building is obscure, cryptic, and vague. But it’s also fanciful and unconventional and that’s what I loved most about this. Trying to nail this story down to a single genre is a troublesome endeavor, but just know that it’s part mythology, part romance, with large parts of magical realism that is so relentless it often veers into straight fantasy. One of the most innovative stories I’ve read this year....more
Yeah. That’s how this one is going to go. The expectations were high with this one. I first discovered this book when I found out it was being made in
Yeah. That’s how this one is going to go. The expectations were high with this one. I first discovered this book when I found out it was being made into a movie so of course I was all about getting the book read first. Especially when I realized this author also wrote one of my favorites of all time: The Secret of Nimh. Naturally I couldn’t find a copy anywhere but FINALLY! Some luck blew my way and my library came through. I started it immediately. I finished it within 24 hours. And now I’m sad.
First off, a few things you need to know. 1. This is a post-apocalyptic novel with not a whole lot of post-apocalyptic action going on. 2. If you picked this up based on the movie trailer, you’re going to be disappointed and/or confused because they have practically nothing in common. 3. There’s some animal cruelty that for once didn’t actually make me cry. Nah. I was enraged instead. And 4? There will be spoilers, but I’ll put them in tags.
We’re introduced to Anne who is sixteen years old and has been living on her childhood farm alone for the past year now. She resides within a valley that because of an inversion has escaped the havoc that the rest of the world has suffered. Her parents and two brothers went out searching for survivors after the nuclear war that happened that we never get any other details of besides the fact that it happened. They never returned. She’s cultivated a garden, has cows and chickens to keep from starving, and fortunately there is also a country store nearby that was pretty well stocked. Anne has done a pretty amazing job surviving all on her own but is understandably curious when she sees smoke in the sky indicative of a campfire. She watches it day after day as it gets closer and closer to her farm; closer and closer to whoever is lighting the fire to discovering her home. She retreats to a nearby cave with her dog Faro to monitor the individual and determine whether or not to let him know there’s one other survivor besides him.
John Loomis is a scientist from New York. His team was researching/developing radiation proof suits but there was only a single prototype in existence which is the only way he was able to survive the fallout from the bomb. Trudging through the remains of the Earth, he comes upon a strange sight: a green valley. After a year of walking, seeing nothing but Earth, the valley is a spectacular sight. He takes his helmet off and realizes he can breathe the air there as well. Unable to help himself, he dives into a small lake to bathe. Unfortunately, the stream that flows into that lake was still affected by radiation and he falls deathly ill.
Spoilers, ahoy!(view spoiler)[So Anne decides she can’t hide in her cave while she watches quite possibly the last man on Earth slowly die from the contaminated water. She brings him food and water and nurses him back to health. What does she get for her good deeds? Nada. Because naturally dude turns out to be a fucking creep. For weeks, Anne maintained the farm and even expands on her plans to include him in the future. And then one night he comes into her room to undoubtedly sexual assault her. She escapes and runs back to the cave that fortunately she kept secret from him. Sure, she’s only 16, but she’s taken perfectly good care of herself up till the point he showed up. In my mind, defending yourself is the reasonable response. But nah, instead Anne tries to make peace with the crazy man and still shares half of all the food and water she gathers. That doesn’t go over so well because apparently he intends to capture her so he uses her dog Faro to hunt her down. He at one point shoots her in the leg too. He’s a real pleasant kinda guy, I totally get why she doesn’t shoot his ass. At the end he finally gets Faro to follow her scent and the dog is about to lead him right to the cave. What shall we do? 1. Shoot the creeper or 2. Shoot the dog so he can’t lead him to her only home? YES, SHE SERIOUSLY CHOSE THE SECOND OPTION. Except she doesn’t get a chance to go through with it because she missed her opportunity. So she goes with her backup plan: run through the contaminated creek so that Loomis won’t follow. But of course the freaking dog follows her. “…instead of following my trail on the rocks he had plunged into the water.” What fucking dog isn’t going to just jump in the water but instead stand on the bank looking for stepping stones. Poor Faro takes his last swim and dies of radiation poisoning.
Z for Zachariah is actually an epistolary and is told via Anne’s journal entries. This style helped build Anne’s characterization and her day to day life before her peaceful valley was encroached upon, however, this style lacked in getting a proper feel on her emotions. She talks about her family that drove away, never to be seen from again, in a very disconnected almost robotic way. Even with passages she’s written immediately after shocking things happen, I still felt a disconnect from how it seemed like someone in her position would feel. It’s a post-apocalyptic book (much like recently read Blindness) which is more a study of human behavior rather than a focus on the reasoning behind the war that caused the devastation. This is all well and good but I felt the characters were very black/white with Anne being the good, wholesome girl and Loomis being the mysterious stranger that we never learn enough about to make his actions comprehensible. One could argue that his last year of surviving alone was enough to change him, however, Anne had to work just as hard to survive. The character study could have gone a bit deeper to better understand the inner-workings of these two characters since they were the only two characters in the book.
I wanted to love this one so much but unfortunately it didn’t happen. I kept thinking that there would be some final twist but I reached the final page without it happening. The ending left me feeling very indifferent and just as emotionally disconnected as Anne. All in all, it’s not the worst post-apocalyptic book I’ve read but it’s certainly not the best.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
‘Once upon a time,an angel and a devil pressed their hands to their hearts and started the apocalypse.’
My first read of theMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
‘Once upon a time,an angel and a devil pressed their hands to their hearts and started the apocalypse.’
My first read of the first book ended on a low note. I reread and my opinion changed enormously. Unfortunately, I’m ending once again on a low note and I fear that no rereading will be able to change that. Daughter of Smoke and Bone was a wonderfully inventive story of angels and demons, of romance, and friendship, and something magical. Days of Blood and Starlight was decidedly darker, and puts its total focus on the coming war between enemies that has been culminating for centuries upon centuries. Dreams of Gods & Monsters is a passive blend of the two and while the writing never fails to inspire praise, I felt the story left a bit to be desired.
‘Once upon a time, there was only darkness. And there were monsters vast as worlds who swam in it.’
For the most part, my sole issue was the inclusion of a brand new character/storyline that could have benefited from an introduction in the previous books so that her addition in this one wasn’t such a jarring change. There was a vast amount of time spent on her character build and while her presence ended up being an inevitably necessity, it still didn’t make the massive amounts of dialogue and general confusion as to her purpose any easier to handle at the time. It was all the more obvious when it wasn’t something I could breeze through on pages since I was cemented in place by the ridiculously long audiobook (18+ hours).
The other issue that detracted from my ultimate enjoyment was Karou and Akiva. *gasp* I know, but let me explain. We’ve been told from the very beginning of their all encompassing love for one another in all their lives. They’re in mad, passionate love with one another; we get it. But we don’t need to be reminded of this every time they manage to lay eyes on one another. It got repetitive after a point. Also, the constancy of issues they ran into giving them one reason or another to not fall into each others arms and fly off into the sunset together got tiresome. How many roadblocks can one pair stand before they scream in frustration? If I was almost there, they had to be screaming for sure.
‘Happiness wasn’t a mystical place to be reached or won–some bright terrain beyond the boundary of misery, a paradise waiting for them to find it–but something to carry doggedly with you through everything, as humble and ordinary as your gear and supplies.’
Despite my not so fabulous rating, I still remain completely dazzled at Laini Taylor’s beautiful way with words. She manages to imbue a wondrousness in the ordinary and completely transforms it. I might not be completely satisfied with this story/series, however, Taylor still makes it all worth it. I can’t wait to experience more of her writing excellence....more
‘Once upon a time, a girl lived in a sandcastle, making monsters to send through a hole in the sky.’
Having finally discovered who she truly is, Karo‘Once upon a time, a girl lived in a sandcastle, making monsters to send through a hole in the sky.’
Having finally discovered who she truly is, Karou finds herself on the side of the chimaera, in a pivotal role, in the impending battle against the seraphim. Including Akiva. Bitter and resentful for the memories that bombarded her, she’s still unable to stop her heart from missing him despite the damage he has done. But harden her heart she must, because war is coming and with so few chimaera remaining there is much work to be done. In the back of her mind is a tiny whisper, that contemplates how this all could be avoided without further bloodshed. And while she ponders this thought, Akiva does the same.
Days of Blood and Starlight took a completely different approach from its predecessor that I was not anticipating. Daughter left us with a tragic ending, Karou having remembered her past love of Akiva, subsequently emboldening her current love for him, except his admission of wrongdoing throws her heart into complete and utter turmoil. Feeling that she must do what she can to help her people she joins forces with the unlikeliest one, Thiago, in order to help him save what is left of their people. Thiago has a different goal in mind though and is hellbent on slaughter and vengeance, even at the risk of his own people. The pain that Karou suffers both internal and external is a hard pill to swallow, but is nonetheless a necessary evil. Akiva’s story was equally impressive and his unexpected decision was shocking and one I didn’t see coming.
Days of Blood and Starlight was a dark and grisly story that lacked the passionate romance I loved in Daughter, but only served to strengthen this story as a whole. I didn’t realize the lightness of the previous installment was almost overdone and that the darkness was a necessary building block that made this an exceptionally strong installment. And it must be mentioned, but the writing? It continues to make me swoon. All this carnage leaves only a sole book remaining and I am quite nervous to see how it all pans out. I can’t wait.
‘I am one of billions. I am stardust gathered fleetingly into form. I will be ungathered. The stardust will go on to be other things someday and I will be free.’...more
‘Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you‘Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.’
Daughter of Smoke & Bone is one much raved about series. I never quite jumped on that bandwagon having read this first book as soon as it was released and not finding it to my liking. I quickly slid into the shadows after I realized I was the illusive black sheep uncertain whether I intended on picking up the future installments. Well, we can all praise Bookish Bingo for pushing me to do a re-read and deciding to give this one a second chance because I really, really enjoyed this one.
This is going to be less of a review and more of an analysis. And a comparison between my first thoughts and current thoughts. Regarding my first review, there were several things that I don’t think I fully appreciated in my first read. First of those is the fantastic friendship between Karou and Zuzana. I didn’t even mention those two and I’m kind of appalled with myself. Her addition to the story added a lightness and a humor that brought Karou’s character to life. Her character was interesting already in her descriptions (the blue hair, the hamsa tattoos) but her interactions with her best friend brought out the personality that made her something more.
The other thing I clearly failed to appreciate was the romance (with Akiva). In my original read my mind immediately went to ‘insta-love’ failing to completely grasp the significance of their meeting, of who Karou is and that it was a far cry from anything related to insta-love. Initially sure, their romance might have seemed quick and reckless, especially when this is someone that is supposed to be her mortal enemy. But as soon as their connected past is revealed? And that ending? Tear my heart out and run it over.
Whether it was the audiobook that finally got me to love this one or my overdue appreciation for the subtleties that made this story so wonderful (or both) the narrator for this is still definitely deserving of praise. So rarely will I listen to an audio narration and immediately seek out all other audiobooks from that narrator because I can’t stop thinking “Damn, girl, you know how to tell a story.”
I was undecided whether I had an interest in continuing this series after my first read. This time, however, I have the second audio ready and waiting for me to finish wrapping up my thoughts. I’m definitely on the bandwagon now....more