A copy of Binding the Shadows was provided to me by Jenn Bennett for review purposes.
*No spoilers for any installments*
There are those kinds of Urban...moreA copy of Binding the Shadows was provided to me by Jenn Bennett for review purposes.
*No spoilers for any installments*
There are those kinds of Urban Fantasy worlds that are intricately built and detailed that you can completely envision and understand it. But then there are those kinds of worlds that are so easily envisioned that they are almost real. Sure there's a demon realm and magicians and all sorts of other craziness going on but you could swear it's really happening around you, Arcadia Bell's world is just that vivid. It's a world that manages to suck you in and make you a part of it all. That's the kind of world that Jenn Bennett has crafted in her Arcadia Bell series.
In my experience, the longer a series goes on for the less likely I am to continue loving it. Characters get old, story lines feel reused... I just prefer stand-alones more often than not. Well, that theory gets completely blown out of the water when it comes to this series. This series has managed to get infinitely better with each new story, and Binding the Shadows is the best installment yet. The character growth continues building, the relationships continue to get stronger and more involved, and I can only sit back and marvel at the complexity of the story lines.
I was in complete awe by the last page. Jenn Bennett isn't afraid to take the risk and inflict her characters with immense pain and suffering but I believe that risky chance paid off big. These characters may be fictional but they struggle despite their magical abilities and it manages to humanize them. Binding the Shadows leaves you with a jaw-dropper of an ending that will leave you desperately wanting 'Crossing the Æthyr'. Urban Fantasy fans: read this series, it won't fail to enthrall you.(less)
A copy of Life After Life was provided to me by Reagan Arthur Books/Netgalley for review purposes.
"What if you had the chance to do it again and again...moreA copy of Life After Life was provided to me by Reagan Arthur Books/Netgalley for review purposes.
"What if you had the chance to do it again and again, until you got it right? Would you do it?" -Edward Beresford Todd
This is the story of Ursula Todd's live(s), and of her death(s), and of how she lives when given a second chance. Each time she dies (and returns) she obtains a sense of deja vu from her past lives. She uses these bits of knowledge from these previous scenes of life to "get it right" and to change the outcome of her life now. Practice makes perfect after all.
The writing was flawless, albeit a tad hard to grasp at first. There's a constant flipping back and forth between time and it was supremely difficult to determine which story went with which one, however it all comes together in the end. I found it best to simply read, absorb, and watch the story unfold without putting too much thought into it or keeping notes regarding what is happening with each date (speaking from personal experience, it's completely unnecessary).
"No point in thinking, you just have to get on with life. We only have one after all, we should try and do our best. We can never get it right, but we must try."
Despite her multiple chances to "get it right", Ursula did not always succeed. She may have avoided one obstacle she encountered in a previous life only to run into another. As Ursula said, "We can never get it right, but we must try." Life isn't perfect, and even if you had multiple chances to go back and change things it still won't be perfect. I think it also meant that sometimes we need to experience these imperfections in order to truly know how to "get it right".
It was amazing to watch each scene transpire and be able to witness how one single act not only resulted in evading death (the second time around of course) but how drastically different her life often was. But what was even more amazing was finishing the story and fully grasping all the story lines that had been going on and having them all come together harmoniously. There truly aren't enough adjectives in existence for me to properly describe how truly amazing I found this book to be. Life After Life was genius, superbly written, intricately detailed, and capable of an emotional resonance you won't see coming.
A copy of Me Before You was provided to me by PENGUIN GROUP Viking and Netgalley for review purposes.
My heart was not prepared for those kind of feels...moreA copy of Me Before You was provided to me by PENGUIN GROUP Viking and Netgalley for review purposes.
My heart was not prepared for those kind of feels... *sigh*
'The thing about being catapulted into a whole new life - or at least shoved up so hard against someone else's life that you might as well have your face pressed against their window - is that it forces you to rethink your idea of who you are. Or how you might seem to other people.'
Louisa's life is lackluster and she's completely content with 'playing it safe' at life. Not that she's ever allowed herself to contemplate how different things could possibly be. She goes to her job at the tea shop, she goes home to her windowless room at her parents house, and she occasionally spends time with her boyfriend Patrick who is far more concerned with his exercise regiment than he is with her. But when she loses her job at the tea shop she accepts a temporary 6 month position as a caregiver to a quadriplegic, Will Traynor.
Louisa and Will are complete opposites and the first few weeks of them knowing each other the quite truly hated each other. Will was oftentimes irrationally difficult and Louisa was ready to quit, but she stuck it out and slowly they developed an extremely touching friendship.
All I can say is that you make me...you make me into someone I couldn't even imagine. You make me happy, even when you're awful.I would rather be with you- even the you that you seem to think is diminished- than with anyone else in the world.'
Their blossoming romance was one of the most convincing I've read in a long time and was truly uplifting. They changed each other in massive ways in such a short period of time. Louisa gave Will happiness that he hadn't experienced for a very long time and Will gave Louisa the determination to do something with her life and not let it go to waste.
Calling this book chick-lit isn't doing this book any sort of justice; the subject matter is simply far too thought-provoking for that kind of label. The real meat of the story focuses on Will's decision to end his life by assisted suicide, which is the reason behind Louisa's 'temporary' position as he promised his parents he would give them another 6 months but no more. Convinced that he just needs something to live for, his parents hire Louisa who is bright, fun and talkative in hopes that she can convince him that he still has something to live for.
“You only get one life. It's actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”
It was certainly a tough subject matter to read but was so well written and managed to actually make me laugh out loud at several parts. I loved Louisa and Will's wittiness and constant banter, it was the perfect addition to this poignant story. It was hard not to picture what it would be like if you were put into a situation such as Louisa and Will's. What you would do, if you would actually do anything different. All I know is that they both had an incredibly difficult decision to make and either way was bound to lead to heartache.
This was an incredible story that was so painful (in that crazy heart hurting kind of way) to read but I simply could not put it down. Me Before You is a heartbreaking story about finding what makes life worth living and making the decision whether it's truly enough. Definitely a new favorite and one that my heart won't be forgetting any time soon.
'Everything happens for a reason. He should be grateful. It's because he is forced to leave that he finds the House. It is because he took the coat th...more'Everything happens for a reason. He should be grateful. It's because he is forced to leave that he finds the House. It is because he took the coat that he has the key.'
Harper stalks his Shining Girls through time and the House helps him. He visits the girls when they are children, takes mementos from them and tells them he'll be back for them when it's time. When that time comes, he leaves their bodies with a new memento, one taken from a different Shining Girl. His goal is to kill them all, all who Shine, and his mission is complete. Except one survived. And now she's the one looking for him.
The writing style is extremely explicit. The murders are terribly graphic and incredibly detailed so if you can't stomach 'Dexter' you're definitely not going to be able to manage this one. I have quite the stomach for gruesome tales but even this one came close to pushing my boundaries. Added to the gruesome details is the heartbreaking bits. There's this one scene in particular where one of the women is trying to stop the killer and in the process is telling him about her kids and how she has to be there for them because they're going to be waking up soon... I'm not much of a softie for sad times but even that got to me pretty bad. Plus, I think it should be mentioned there's also a gruesome scene involving a dog that may or may not have caused a tear or two.
'He only has to think of a time and it will open onto it, although he can't always tell if his thoughts are his own or if the House is deciding for him.'
Much like what karen says in her review of The Shining Girls, this book reminds me very much of Life After Life despite it's obvious differences. Life After Life isn't technically time-travel but the transitions through time are quite similar, also both novels lack the scientific backing to support the time-traveling, it's either believable or it's not. Both novels had similar writing styles with bouncing back and forth to different times. It shouldn't make sense and it should be terribly confusing and hard to follow but somehow it manages to make complete and utter sense. Lauren Beukes writes with such confidence though that it really leaves no room for questioning. I never had a doubt.
'It's the same tug in his stomach that brought him to the House. That jolt of recognition when he walks into someplace he's meant to be. He knows it when he sees the tokens that match the ones in the room. It is a game. It's a destiny he's writing for them. Inevitably, they're waiting for him.'
This book blew my mind. I finished it late one night and ended up unable to fall asleep because I simply could not stop thinking about it. There were a few questions that went unanswered that I wish had been but my overall opinion of the book remained bright and shiny. (ha, pun intended) The two things I had issue with her major spoilers but I had to include them. Please do not click if you have any intention of reading this! (view spoiler)[Kirby spent years investigating, trying to find the man who tried to murder her. In the end, he ended up coming back to her after discovering that he didn't finish the job. The fact that all her researching seemingly amounted to nothing was bothersome. It made me wonder if his other crimes went unsolved or if after being introduced to the House if it made Kirby re-question everything. She saw the Room and saw the names of the other girls so in my mind I'd like to think that even though it wouldn't have been easily proven at the very least she figured it out in the end. Considering the ending was slightly left open to interpretation, that's just my interpretation. :) (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[Also, we're given back-story on a lot, like regarding Bartek and the money bag and even a short glimpse of who Harper was in his younger years, but the one scene I kept waiting for was how the Room came to be. Each girls name was in Harper's handwriting on the walls, it just made me wonder if the Room came together all at once or if it was pieced together over time as he found each of his Shining Girls. (hide spoiler)]
The Shining Girls is a horrid and nightmarish tale but so completely intense and unforgettable that it's certain to leave a lasting impression. It's a story possessing such vehemence you practically need a good, strong drink to aid you through it. In honor of the drink the House never failed to provide I recommend a whisky straight-up, no ice.(less)
A copy of The Death of Bees was provided to me by Harper for review purposes.
"Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am 15. Today I bur...moreA copy of The Death of Bees was provided to me by Harper for review purposes.
"Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am 15. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved."
Launching right into the heart of the story, Marnie and Nelly bury their parents in the backyard after their father suffocates and their mothers hangs herself. With both parents gone the girls are left completely alone. Living in the slums of Glasgow, Scotland, Marnie makes a hasty decision to bury them both in the garden in order to avoid being placed into foster care. When Marnie turns 16 she can legally care for her sister so they just need to stay under the radar for one year. But between their curious but concerned neighbor and his inquisitive dog with a penchant for digging in their garden, a drug dealer their father owes money to, and a grandfather that wants to find his daughter their carefully constructed web of lies slowly begins to deteriorate.
Having lived with their parents misconduct their entire lives, finding their dead bodies didn't have the emotional impact that would be typical for most people. Marnie had already been taking care of her and her sister for years so not having their parents there really wasn't new. Except they were still there. Kind of. They were just in the garden now, buried under the lavender bushes.
It wasn't until later that I connected the dots and the references to the sexual abuse from their father. The author manages to indirectly reference the abuse both girls received from their father without going into unnecessary detail but I almost missed it entirely. The only indication given of this abuse was the lasting impacts both girls exhibit (i.e. Marnie's drinking and drug problems and lack of disregard for sleeping with married men and Nelly's ongoing night terrors.) Their experiences nevertheless created an unbreakable bond between the girls.
Throughout the story, the reference to people being 'monsters' for actions in their life that have inevitably gone on to define them. The elderly gay neighbor Lennie who takes it upon himself to care for the girls when they so desperately needed someone. But due to a past transgression that labeled him a sex offender he becomes identified as a monster. Marnie and Nelly's parents are more deserving of the label 'monster' because of the serious neglect of their children. The girls were forced to grow up at an extremely young age due to their parents terminal absence. Neither girl had anything close to a childhood and it was always a guessing game whether they would come home with groceries or drugs and booze. The children's grandfather that appears and suddenly wants to be a part of their life to make amends for past wrongs is also deserving of the title. But that's where the grey area develops: Do the girls actions make them monsters as well? Or is their behavior excusable because of everything they had already been through and what they were trying to avoid? The author doesn't provide any clear cut answer in determining who is right and who is wrong but it's safe to say that all characters are at fault in some way.
The style of writing and changes in point of view were brilliant. Each character had their own distinctive voice and their own important story. All points of view were told in first person but Lennie's was written almost as a letter or diary entries to his deceased lover, Joseph. Nelly is quite the eccentric 12 year-old that is a violin prodigy, has a fondness for old classic movies, and speaks as if, as Lennie put it, "like she swallowed a dictionary". Marnie, an extremely direct and to the point individual that carries a massive burden which she manages to somewhat hide. It's obvious that both girls lack necessary help, they just simply don't know where to look for it.
"What on earth is happening to the bees? They say it is an ecological disaster, an environment holocaust. Every day I wonder what the blazes can be causing this abuse of our ecosystem." -Nelly
The meaning behind the title eluded me for quite some time and I actually spent several hours pondering its significance. So this is what I came up with, but I could be completely off the mark, I have no idea but it really does seem to have a simple and straight forward meaning. As Nelly stated above, the death of bees is an ecological disaster and an environmental holocaust as bees play a major role and their deaths have a lasting effect. Even though their parents didn't play a major role in the girls lives, their deaths still managed to make a lasting impact on them.
'I fear death, I have always feared death. It comes like a gale and never with permission. I would meet it again today.'
'The Death of Bees' is gloomy, somber, and brutally realistic but darkly comedic as well. Enthralling and thought-provoking, you'll find yourselves racing to finish to find out these unforgettable girls' fate.(less)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars A copy of The Beautiful Indifference was provided to me by Harper Perennial/Edelweiss for review purposes.
'A Beautiful Indiffer...moreMy rating: 4 of 5 stars A copy of The Beautiful Indifference was provided to me by Harper Perennial/Edelweiss for review purposes.
'A Beautiful Indifference' is a collection of seven short stories that had been previously published in various forms and have been honored for awards on their own. The first story, 'Butcher's Perfume' was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award in 2010 and 'Vuotjärvi' was long-listed for the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award in 2011.
I've only recently started reading short stories but I decided to pick this one up and was very pleased. Very raw and disconcerting stories with prose that really packs a punch and manages to leave your mind whirling. Each story is very allegorical. Lacking in a true, concrete conclusion and typically left open to interpretation, they all seem to have some deeper meaning that was unattainable for the most part for me. Despite this, these were some of the most gratifying short stories I have ever read. The writing was truly brilliant and left me always wanting more. Sarah Hall is definitely an author worth checking out.(less)
'Here I was, living in a luxury hotel, ,racing around a half-Latin city in a toy car that looked like a cockroach and sounded like a jet fighter, snea...more'Here I was, living in a luxury hotel, ,racing around a half-Latin city in a toy car that looked like a cockroach and sounded like a jet fighter, sneaking down alleys and humping on the beach, scavenging for food in shark-infested waters, hounded by mobs yelling in a foreign tongue - and the whole thing was taking place in quaint old Spanish Puerto Rico...'
I would guess that in the time that lapsed in this story, a couple tons of rum was consumed. I suppose that explains the title. But serious, these people had to be staggering around drunk all the time. It's amazing they actually got anything done. Oh wait. That's right. They didn't. But considering this story is set in the late 1950's I suppose that would explain their behavior as well.
"We're all going to the same damn places, doing the same damn things people have been doing for fifty years, and we keep waiting for something to happen. You know - I'm a rebel, I took off - now where's my reward?" "You fool," I said." There is no reward and there never was."
Gritty and raw with a tinge of desperation. Paul Kemp in addition to everyone else he's become acquainted with since his arrival on the island of Puerto Rico have only ended up there in hopes of escaping to something better. After quickly realizing that Puerto Rico (at the time) is far from their original vision of paradise, the spiteful and bitter attitudes begin making an appearance. It doesn't take Kemp long to become just as bitter after the realization that a person can work so hard to have a better life, have more money, and to accomplish your dreams and never actually get anything done except wasting time and getting older.
"We keep getting drunk and these terrible things keep happening and each one is worse than the last... Hell, it's no fun anymore - our luck's all running out at the same time."
The Rum Diary is simply that, a diary. There isn't even that much of a plot, really. It's almost like a pilot episode, a small glimpse of what's to come but unfortunately there isn't any full episode to look forward to. Despite that, I find myself extremely fascinated and I now have an incredibly strong desire to read anything I can get my hands on of Hunter S. Thompson's. The Rum Diary is his second novel which he wrote at the age of 22 is semi-autobiographical because Hunter himself flew down to Puerto Rico as a journalist to write for a newspaper. Despite writing The Rum Diary in the early 1960's, it was never actually published until 1998 because no one was interested and he was constantly rejected. Fortunately, he revisited the idea of publishing it several decades later and he finally succeeding in releasing it to the world.(less)
Thank you to Reagan Arthur Books/Little, Brown and Company for providing me with a copy of this book. Expected publication: July 31st 2012 by Reagan A...moreThank you to Reagan Arthur Books/Little, Brown and Company for providing me with a copy of this book. Expected publication: July 31st 2012 by Reagan Arthur Books
'The drone in my ear, it's like the tornado drill in elementary school, the hand-cranked siren that rang mercilessly, all of us hunched over on ourselves, facing the basement walls, heads tucked into our chests. Beth and me wedged tight, jeaned legs pressed against each other. The sound of our own breathing. Before we all stopped believing a tornado, or anything, could touch us, ever.'
Ah, the sordid lives that teenagers lead, hidden under their masks of perfection. Seemingly perfect girls Addy and Beth are cheerleaders but it's more than just a hobby to them; it's a part of who they are. Their lives would mean nothing if they weren't in cheer. When the new school year comes around and with it a new cheer coach, it sets about a change so big that no one can even begin to imagine the end results.
'...we work hard because it raises a din, a rabid, high-pitched din that can nearly drown out the sound of the current and coming chaos. The sense that everything is changing in ways we can't guess and that nothing can stop it.'
Now, when I first read the synopsis and how it's about two troubled high school girls who are best friends and also cheerleaders my mind automatically flashed to scenes from Bring It On and Gossip Girl and I physically winced and completely lost all interest in ever pursuing it. And then it shows up in my mailbox. FINE. I'll give it a shot. Well. These girls make Gossip Girls look tame in comparison and they are far from the perky preppy bitches in Bring It On. They are brilliantly methodical and the strength they exude is at times quite scary, especially when you realize these are 16 and 17 year-olds. Often I’ll read a story based on young adults and if it’s not done well their mature acts come across as phony and insincere. Addy and Beth were real and it was nothing short of enthralling.
'Time comes, you have to listen to yourself. As if listening to yourself was just something you could do. As if there were something there to listen to. A self inside you with all kinds of smart things to say.'
And as far as the writing goes, the only way I can think of describing it is being incredibly intense. This is not YA so just because the main characters are in high school, do yourself a favor and don't jump to conclusions. But wow, the storyline was already extreme, the characters vivid, but the powerful lines thrown in really completed it. Megan Abbott… where have you been hiding?(less)
The Secret Keeper was kindly provided to me by Netgalley for Simon & Schuster/Atria Books. Expected publication: October 9th 2012 by Atria
'It was t...moreThe Secret Keeper was kindly provided to me by Netgalley for Simon & Schuster/Atria Books. Expected publication: October 9th 2012 by Atria
'It was the liquid silver flash Laurel would always remember. The way sunlight caught the metal blade, and the moment was briefly beautiful.'
In 1959, when Laurel was sixteen years old she watched as a stranger walked up her driveway, said hello to her mother, before her mother stabbed him to death. But the man wasn’t a stranger at all because before he died she heard him speak: ”Hello, Dorothy,” the man said. “It’s been a long time.”
When the police interviewed her mother, Laurel admits to seeing everything. Her mother didn’t do anything wrong, that the stranger had attacked her and she had no choice but to do what she had done. Nothing more was ever said about the man’s death and Laurel never asked but she the memories of that day never left her.
Fifty years later, Laurel’s mother has been hospitalized so she returns to her childhood home to be with her. Returning only revives the memories but this time she’s determined to finally find the answers to the mystery that has plagued her for almost her entire life.
The story flashes back and forth between 1940 and present day. As Laurel begins uncovering answers to her mother’s past, the truth begins to unfold. There is so much that can be said but shouldn't for fear of ruining the story. Definitely one that truly needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated. Suffice it to say, it was an incredible mystery with intriguing and amazingly well-developed characters; a definite treat.
The immensity of the revelation at the end truly took my breath away. That moment when all is revealed and all the unanswered questions are finally given resolution and you finally see it all in its finality? Oh, the feelings! This book made me feel so much and it was intense, amazing, bittersweet and so poignant. Reading something with such intricate detailing, intersecting storylines that blended beautifully, and an ending I never could have possibly imagined… this was a real gem. I won’t be forgetting this story for a long time to come.(less)
'I knew the world was out there. I just didn't see a place for myself in it. And even if there might be, I had no idea how to go about finding it. It n...more'I knew the world was out there. I just didn't see a place for myself in it. And even if there might be, I had no idea how to go about finding it. It never occurred to me that the world might come find me - and that without me lifting a finger to make it happen, one day my life would change, completely and forever. But it did. And this is the story of it.'
Growing up in Deadweather, Egbert (although he prefers 'Egg') always thought that life outside of Deadweather would be more civilized and more respectful. Growing up with his brother Adonis and sister Venus who treated him like an unwanted brother and his father who he couldn't even be sure really loved him, Egbert didn't have the easiest of lives. But when Egbert gets a taste of what other people are truly like, even on the illustrious island Sunrise, he realizes that his family may not be as bad as he originally made them out to be. When his family goes missing after his father makes a mysterious discovery, Egg begins to suspect that he had actually found evidence of the Fire King's treasure (which was a supposed myth) and that it's somewhere back on his home in Deadweather.
This book was an immense amount of fun and I had trouble putting it down because I was so enthralled in the story. The story was told from the point-of-view of Egg which was different as it seems most books I've read are from the point-of-view of a female so it was an interesting but fun perspective shift for me. Guts was my favorite character though, he cracked me up. Guts mopped the decks of a pirate ship but was not a pirate himself. He refused to wear shoes, his hair hung in his eyes so much you couldn't be positive he could actually see, and he was quite a wild little animal.
"He'd never use that knife." "He would, actually. He's quite violent. And not well in the head." "What kind of 'not well'?" "The kind that stabs people! Look at this." I opened two buttons on my shirt and pulled it far enough off my shoulder to give her a good look at the blood-crusted bite mark on ym shoulder. "Oh, that's awful! Does he have a dog?" "No, that was him." Millicent's eyebrows jumped. "Right, then. Good to know. Thanks for the tip."
One of my kids asked me what the story was about so I told her the basis. Her immediate response was 'How long until you finish so I can read it?' She snagged it just as soon as I was done. I found it to be a bit violent but was satisfied that it was kept to a minimum. This is a series/trilogy that I will definitely be keeping an eye out for in the future. The ending sets up Egg and Guts' next adventure perfectly. Funny and definitely entertaining, this one is a true 'middle-grade' gem.(less)
This is actually the first '2012' type story I've ever read and it truly blew me away. Look up the definition of 'page-turner' and you should see a picture of this book. It was thrilling, addicting, and I couldn't put it down. One of those that I was more than willing to sacrifice sleep so I could keep reading. 12.21 tells the story of an infection that once it starts spreading it cannot be stopped and how it could very well be the reason the Maya civilization originally disappeared.
I wouldn't consider myself a 2012 fanatic but I have seen my fair share of Mayan prophecy shows on the History Channel and the Discovery Channel. I've never considered the fact that the world is truly going to end on December 21, 2012, but I think it's a fair assumption that something may very well indeed happen that changes the world we live in. Or it could be like every other normal day, who knows. I guess we'll just have to wait a few short months and find out firsthand. But the storyline in 12.21 of one possible outcome was terrifyingly realistic and incredibly convincing.
I loved how this wasn't just an end of world tale and how it was actually linked to the very reason the Maya civilization disappeared so very long ago. Based on the Authors Note, 'there is no evidence that the Maya suffered from a transmissible prion disease', but regardless this was a riveting concept. Dustin Thomason created an amazing yet lifelike end of days story that is hands down my favorite read of 2012.(less)
"You still remember that?" she said. "How we used to play that we were at court?" "Used to?" I said. "We never stopped." The game had just changed - fro...more"You still remember that?" she said. "How we used to play that we were at court?" "Used to?" I said. "We never stopped." The game had just changed - from little girls playing princesses to a more grown-up and complicated hierarchy of status and favor.
I am far from a professional when it comes to history but I would consider myself a huge fan of the Tudor era. I've read up on the era enough to know the majority of what occurred but possibly not enough to point out historical inaccuracies when I read a story like Gilt. Based on what I do know; however, it is important to me that these stories maintain as much of the true to life story as possible. That said, I feel that the author did an outstanding job of the story of Catherine 'Cat' Howard and how she became the fifth wife of Henry VIII. Was it completely accurate? No. But it was damn fun. I've read stories about Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, and Anne of Cleves, so it was interesting to finally read a story on Catherine Howard.
The story is told from the POV of Kitty Tylney, Cat's best friend, who is sent to court in order to stay close to Catherine and to keep a close eye on her at court. The two grew up together and were wild; always having fun of some sort. Midnight parties. Sharing their bed with boys. Cat was the Queen of Misrule over all the girls living in the house and had no idea that someday she would be a true Queen. Queen of England.
Cat was quite the stuck-up brat and I know for a fact I would not have enjoyed it as much if I had to listen to a story told through her eyes. Kitty was an extremely realistic character that I loved for her strength and determination. Life at court was as can be expected with the lies, the cheating, the double-crossing, and all the disloyalty anyone could ask for. I was hooked from page one.
I'm a huge historical fiction fan; however, I have had a difficult time finding good YA historical fiction that I truly enjoy. I'm happy to say that this one has an official spot at the very top of that list. Am quite excited to see how the author continues this series!(less)
"We have no way of knowing if this trend will continue. But we suspect it will continue." Our days had grown by fifty-six minutes in the night.
I had some difficulty getting into this story at first and I set it aside a number of times. Once I fell into the pattern of life right along with Julia I found myself enthralled and I couldn’t put it down. It took me 5 days to read the first 25% and 6 hours to read the final 75%.
This is essentially a written account told from the POV of an eleven year old girl, Julia, of when the Earth’s rotation began to slow. The slow build-up in the beginning was interesting I thought because it wasn't truly suspenseful since it was told from the POV of someone so young, someone who really lacked the ability to comprehend what was happening.
'I could tell he was hoping not to scare us, but that was the thing: We kids were not as afraid as we should have been. We were too young to be scared, too immersed in our own small worlds, too convinced of our own permanence.'
The commentary that alluded to a future that had yet to happen was eerie yet made you desperate to find out what happened to these people as a result of the phenomenon. Through Julia's eyes we watch her and the people in her life grow and adapt to the changing times. Slowly but surely more issues start occurring and life on Earth became anything but simple.
It’s hard to imagine a normal day lasting any longer than 24 hours but after that first night the day extended beyond that: 24 hours and 56 minutes. That in and of itself was shocking but as each day passes more and more time is added on to the ‘normal day’. The innocence of Julia definitely tones down the seriousness of the situation but it’s still a scary and potentially realistic reality. This is one any dystopian fan shouldn’t miss. (less)
This was an exceptionally written story that managed to suck me in with the very first line and I simply couldn't read fast enough. For a book with ov...moreThis was an exceptionally written story that managed to suck me in with the very first line and I simply couldn't read fast enough. For a book with over 550 pages this went extremely quick.
Ismae is seventeen years-old and just has been sold to the local pig farmer for three silver coins. As he inevitably forces her into his bedroom after the local priest has married them, he sees her body for the first time. And the scars that adorn it. After he locks her in a closet, she is assisted by the same local priest that married her and the local herbwitch responsible for the scars on her body and they ferry her out of town and into safety. Unable to fathom what she should be expecting, she arrives at the convent of St. Mortain, the god of Death. Ismae is told that she was sired by the god of Death himself and that he has bestowed gifts upon her of great value.
"If you choose to stay, you will be trained in His arts. You will learn more ways to kill a man than you imagined possible. We will train you in stealth and cunning and all manner of skills that will ensure no man is ever again a threat to you."
Hmm.. become a bad-ass assasin or go back to the pig farmer. Decisions, decisions.
Duval is a mysterious man who is a favorite to the duchess, but his loyalties are in doubt. Ismae is ultimately sent back with him to court as his mistress. It was obviously inevitable that these two would end up been all lovey-dovey but I was okay with that. Duval was a good match for Ismae in my opinion. At first, I didn't much care for the 'little-girl' mode she went into around him. The girl is an assassin who has killed men in cold blood and she went all weak-kneed everytime he touched her... but I suppose that could be attributed to the fact that she spent more in practicing on poison making than she did in her 'womanly arts' classes. :) I think this ended up making the story work better in terms of realism because regardless of the fact that she is an assassin, she is only 17 and has yet to encounter a man that was decent to her and if she didn't act the way she did I think her actions would have closely resembled that of a robot instead of a real person. Her vulnerabilities are intriguing.
'I can dodge a blow or block a knife. I am impervious to poison and know a dozen ways to escape a chokehold or garrote wire. But kindness? I do not know how to defend against that.'
I really did love Ismae. She was charming, unintentionally funny, a natural bad-ass, she hides weapons under her skirts, and kills people with jewelry. Enough said. The initial pacing of this story was incredibly fast and it flashed forward 3 years later to when she is a trained assassin within the first 50 pages. At first I was disappointed that we didn't receive more of a backstory on Ismae, but then again, she was raised the daughter of an abusive man who was a turnip farmer. How interesting could it have been?
I'm a huge fan of historical fiction, if it's done right. I've read some pretty dreadful ones. This was a historical fiction with touches of fantasy that blended beautifully in my opinion. I was a bit timid going into this because I haven't read too many YA historical fictions and the ones I have I wasn't impressed. That's the thing with this one though, it may be labeled YA but it's very maturely written. All in all I'm pretty blown away at how much I enjoyed this. I was enthralled throughout the entirety and was pleasantly mystified as to what the outcome could possibly be... which is quite rare. So many books these days lack that 'surprise' factor. By the end though I was practically heartbroken once it was over as I had become so emotionally invested in what happened to these people... I'm so excited for the next book to come out. I think it will be interesting learning more about Sybella after the glimpses we had in this installment. I can't wait!(less)
“The first thing I notice is the sky, so full of blue and the kind of brilliant white clouds that make you ecstatic to have eyes. Nothing can go wrong...more“The first thing I notice is the sky, so full of blue and the kind of brilliant white clouds that make you ecstatic to have eyes. Nothing can go wrong under this sky...”
A big thank you to Maja and Lisa for hosting the contest which got me a copy of this book. (The good copy that is diary-esque, with all of Lennie's handwritten notes that she left all over town, and even a blue band to keep all the pages together.)
Despite the fact that I've had this book on my TBR list for quite some time, I'm not sure I would have ever picked it up if it wasn't staring me in the face on my bookshelf day after day. I'm not big on YA contemporary literature and even less big on books about death and dying. I love when my books make me happy, when they put a smile on my face, take me away from the monotonous day to day life we all live and ones that fill me with all sorts of book magic. Yes, this book is about loss, it's about death, and it's about grieving, but it's also about overcoming everything and realizing that the experience has transformed you. This one definitely had the book magic.
“... if you're someone who knows the worst thing can happen at any time, aren't you also someone who knows the best thing can happen at any time too?”
This one makes your heart hurt but somehow manages to make it feel good at the same time. Lennie and her sister Bailey were inseparable until she dies unexpectedly from an arrhythmia. The Sky is Everywhere chronicles the process of her grief and rediscovering who she is without her sister. The process was not simple and it didn't follow any sort of established pattern. Her grief was messy and chaotic and her actions failed to make any sort of logical sense to me at times but they never made logical sense to Lennie either. Losing her sister destroyed her completely but watching her piece herself back together was most inspiring.
'I try to fend off the oceanic sadness, but I can't. It's such a colossal effort not to be haunted by what's lost, but to be enchanted by what was.'
The one thing I have been unable to fully grasp is... this is a debut novel? Wow. Jandy Nelson's writing snuck up on me and hit me with lines that astounded. The vividness of which she was able to portray grief was terribly accurate and has left a huge impression on me. She is definitely an author that I will love to read more from.
'Grief is forever. It doesn't go away; it becomes part of you, step for step, breath for breath.'(less)
Considering I have a ton of ARCs I should really be catching up on, and considering how much I love Charley, I really should have known bette...more4.5 stars
Considering I have a ton of ARCs I should really be catching up on, and considering how much I love Charley, I really should have known better than to tell myself, "Just one chapter!" But it didn't even take a chapter, I was hooked by the opening paragraph.
'I sat watching the Buy From Home Channel with my dead aunt Lillian and wondered what my life would've been like had I not just eaten an entire carton of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Therapy with a mocha latter chaser. Probably about the same but it was something to think about.'
Oh, Charley. I missed you.
Charley was funny and full of snark (as usual) but after the incident from the last book she has a new sense of reality. She's still fragile and recovering mentally and hasn't even left the house in two months when the book begins. It takes a lot of work from everyone close to her (and a few margaritas) to get her close to normal, or as normal as Charley has ever been.
'Surely my macking on some guy in an insane asylum wouldn't hurt him. He'd been living with his stalker, for heaven's sake.'
Her love life is full of drama as usual and Donovan makes a (small) appearance to complete the love triangle going on. Strangely, this is one love triangle that doesn't cause a negative reaction from me. I'm quite fond of both boys. :) But, it was just a small appearance and Reyes is front and center in her life (as it should be.) The two butt heads for a short time until Charley can forgive him for his actions from book 3. He had an attitude problem for the vast majority of the book but he made amends for that. And then some.
Charley's sister Gemma plays a larger role this time around and I loved what she brought to the story. Charley and Gemma have finally made amends and for the first time in their life they're actually acting like sisters. One of their funniest moments was when everyone was concerned that Charley wasn't sleeping so Gemma and Cookie resort to drinking margaritas (Cookie-a-ritas). The morning after conversation between Gemma and Charley: "Have you seen my pants?" "Speaking of which, how did you get home without them?" "I borrowed a pair of your sweats. I ran into a convenience store with them on. I talked to neighbors out in their yard when I pulled up. And only after I got inside did I realize they had 'Exit Only' written across the back." "You stole my favorite sweats?" "I wanted to die." I think I just died of laughter.
Charley finally gets some answers in this installment! What she's capable of, why she's here on Earth, and even why Reyes calls her Dutch which has bugging me FOREVER. I won't ruin it for you but it was quite enlightening. Really opens up future storylines and how it's going to go. As usual, this is one series I'm constantly pining for and cannot get enough of. Start the countdown for book 5 "Fifth Grave Past the Light" due out July 9th, 2013. Only 9 months. *sigh* __________________________________________________________
When I was a kid I used to live in Northern California in this super smal...moreInterested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!
Okay folks, it's story time.
When I was a kid I used to live in Northern California in this super small town where there really wasn't much to do besides go to the movies and go to the library (or in the summer there was the swimming pool). With these options available to me I guess I'm not really surprised that I have an extreme love for books now. Our library was pretty small but they had quite a large children's section where looking back, I think I spent half my life there (it seems). I remember whenever we would go to the library I'd plop down on the floor just to look at these books (since I had already read them dozens of times) but I positively adored the pictures and they fascinated me at that age.
Over time I ended up forgetting all about these books... until just a few weeks ago. I'm not sure what triggered it but I had this vivid memory of me at my old library reading these books. It bugged me for WEEKS because I could not remember what they were called or who the author was so I could look at them once again. I ended up on this random classic book blog searching through about 2,000 items thinking that if I just saw the cover I would remember. And sure enough, I found them on this website! I found the complete collection of these books on the Book Depository and knew I had to own it.
As quoted by the author:
"Brambly Hedge is my ideal world. The way the mice live is completely natural, which is how I think life ought to be. They appreciate and use everything that grows around them. Theirs is a loving and caring society, but the mice are not just series and worth. They have FUN! Life is a series of picnics and gatherings, parties and outings."
Okay, so this really isn't a review but I felt the need to relay the huge impact that these books had on my childhood. They're the most darling stories and even more precious illustrations. My favorite illustrations were of their homes; they were extremely detailed and just looked like a fun place to be.
Agnes is not your normal chick-lit heroine. The fact that she’s known as ‘Cranky Agnes’ could give you an idea. The fact that she’s used...moreThe Storyline
Agnes is not your normal chick-lit heroine. The fact that she’s known as ‘Cranky Agnes’ could give you an idea. The fact that she’s used a frying pan in more ways than just cooking (I’ll give you a hint, one guy now has a metal plate in his head) could also give you another idea. There’s also an incident with a meat fork but I won’t spoil the fun for you. Or maybe it’s the mental conversations she has with her therapist.
”Fuck you,” Agnes said, bent over the edge of the cake. Angry language, Agnes. Fuck you, too, Dr. Garvin.
I think it’s a combination of everything, actually.
Agnes leads a quiet, simple, life as a food writer engaged to a quiet, simple man named Taylor. Her quiet, simple life takes a sharp 180° the day that she’s held at gunpoint for her dog. Yes, she’s held at gunpoint because they’re trying to steal her dog. Her life is soon thrown into even more upheaval when a hitman, Shane, is sent to protect her. People keep coming after Agnes, trying to steal her dog, trying to kill her, but who’s sending them? What follows is a rollercoaster ride that’s entirely way too much fun.
"Somebody might be coming to the house who might be dangerous." "Really?" Agnes said. "Because that almost never happens here. With advance notice. Should I get my frying pan?"
Agnes is going down as one of my favorite book characters of all time, definitely. She’s a single girl, who loves to cook for her friends, she’s preparing to hold a wedding at her house, and she’s a food writer… I mean, at face value she’s just a normal girl. Agnes cannot be taken at face value and that’s what I loved most, the fact that I was completely surprised at how crazy and lovable she was all at the same time.
This book was downright hilarious, was extremely enjoyable, the characters were all amazing (I especially loved Shane), and… why exactly have I never read anything by this author before? Will definitely be correcting this, pronto. (less)
corrode, v. ‘I spent all this time building a relationship. Then one night I left the window o...moreInterested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!
corrode, v. ‘I spent all this time building a relationship. Then one night I left the window open, and it started to rust.’
This was a delightfully unique story of a relationship’s major occurrences told by short entries in dictionary format. I gave major points for the originality of the entire concept of the story; I’ve never read anything like it before. The writing was beautiful and the story bittersweet and poignant.
dispel, v. ‘It was the way you said, “I have something to tell you.” I could feel the magic drain from the room.’
The story was told from the point of view of the male in the relationship who remains un-named throughout the entire story. It was also an extremely quick story and could easily be read in a single sitting but I ended up reading it bits and pieces at a time. I went into this story thinking that this would be a traditional story that followed a standard timeline; however, it seemed that the dictionary entries flip flopped around in time and you don’t end up getting the ‘bigger picture’ until the end when you can sit back and contemplate the entries. This was troublesome for me at first and I had a hard time understanding it, but by the end I was completely sold; the author’s execution of the story was brilliant.
ineffable, adj. ‘These words will ultimately end up being the barest of reflections, devoid of the sensations words cannot convey. Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there, there will never be enough.’(less)
If you’re in any way a fan of Sherlock Holmes, this book/series is a must read for you. I’m new to the world of Sherlock Holmes but I immediately loved him following his first book A Study in Scarlet and I desperately wanted to read more stories about him.
Sherlock Holmes is now a retired beekeeper residing in Sussex Downs. Despite the fact that he is retired, his mind is still just as sharp and he still assists the police in solving local cases. Sherlock Holmes meets Mary Russell (the narrator), a 15 year old young woman, one day and recognizes her as a like-minded individual almost instantly. ’The formality of his speech was faintly ludicrous considering that we were two shabby figures facing each other on an otherwise deserted hillside.’
Mary quickly becomes a sidekick to Holmes and he teaches her all the tricks of his trade. Despite her young age, despite the fact that she is female, she quickly becomes an equal to Sherlock which is quite a change when compared to the relationship between Sherlock and Watson.
”A conversation with you is most invigorating, Russell. That might have taken twenty frustrating minutes with Watson.”
I absolutely loved how true to form Sherlock was in this book and if I didn’t love him/this book enough as is, the addition of Mary made it absolute perfection. Their dry humor and verbal sparring was delightful. They began as friends and Mary was constantly striving for Sherlock’s approval. ’Ah, how sweet was the pleasure of seeing the look of appreciation spread over his face and hearing his murmured phrase, “Very good, very good indeed.” It was like coming home.’
The book actually spans quite a number of years as Mary is almost nineteen by the end. The progression of their relationship was lovely and despite the fact that it could be construed as inevitable it was still a delight to witness. Reminders of my femininity always took him by surprise. However, I could not hold him to blame, for they took me by surprise as well.
This has absolutely become one of my favorites and I will definitely be continuing this series. Thank you Maja for the recommendation. :)(less)
’I am one in a row of specimens. It’s when I try to flutter out of line that he hates me. I’m meant to...moreInterested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!
’I am one in a row of specimens. It’s when I try to flutter out of line that he hates me. I’m meant to be dead, pinned, always the same, always beautiful. He knows that part of my beauty is being alive, but it’s the dead me he wants. He wants me living-but-dead.’
The Collector is the story of Frederick Clegg, an extremely odd and lonely man who also collects butterflies. He’s obsessed with a middle-class art student named Miranda Grey and as he continues admiring her from a distance a plan slowly starts developing in his mind that he would like to have her; like one of his butterflies. He makes preparations by buying a house out in the country, purchasing assorted objects and things he knows she will need, convinced that if he can only capture her and keep her that she will slowly grow to love him.
The first part of the novel was told from Ferdinand’s point of view and it was rather alarming at his thought process. In his mind, there is nothing morally wrong with what he intends to do (and what he actually ends up doing). He recognizes that Miranda is a human being as he takes care of her and provides her everything a human would possibly need, but she’s inevitably nothing more than an object or a collectible item to him. He doesn’t mean to harm her at first; however, it’s evident that as time progresses, he enjoys having power over her and almost finds humor in her attempts to escape.
The second part of the novel was told from Miranda’s point of view through diary entries that she hides underneath her mattress. She writes about G.P. often, a man she met and who ended up having a huge impact on her thoughts and ideals. To Miranda, G.P. was everything she wanted to be and his opinions and thoughts became a set of ‘rules’ for her. At first I had a hard time determining the relevancy of these recollections, but it essentially just became another disturbing piece of the story to see how influential G.P. and his ‘rules’ really were to Miranda.
’He’s made me believe them; it’s the thought of him that makes me feel guilty when I break the rules.’
It was almost expected, however still just as shocking when it becomes glaringly obvious that Miranda slowly begins to take pity on her captor. She starts feeling bad for the harsh things she says to him and she also unconsciously prevents herself from doing him excessive harm during an escape attempt as she feels that if she does she’s descending to his level…It was as if she had simply accepted her situation, and that was the most heartbreaking part.
’And yes, he had more dignity than I did then and I felt small, mean. Always sneering at him, jabbing him, hating him and showing it. It was funny, we sat in silence facing each other and I had a feeling I’ve had once or twice before, of the most peculiar closeness to him—not love or attraction or sympathy in any way. But linked destiny. Like being shipwrecked on an island—a raft—together. In every way not wanting to be together. But together.’
The third and fourth parts of the novel were the most disturbing parts of the entire book. Suffice it to say, it gave me goosebumps. It was not the ending I had anticipated, but I still felt that the author was successful in creating the everlasting effect I believe he intended. Obviously, you understand the severity of Ferdinand’s actions; however, not until the end do you fully understand just how abnormal he really is. This was certainly not a happy book, but one that I’m glad to have read and one that I will likely not forget.(less)
‘At the time the pigeon affair overtook him, unhinging his life from one day to the next, Jonathan Noel, already past fifty, could look back over a go...more‘At the time the pigeon affair overtook him, unhinging his life from one day to the next, Jonathan Noel, already past fifty, could look back over a good twenty-year period of total uneventfulness and would never have expected anything of importance could ever overtake him again – other than death some day.’
‘The Pigeon’ is an incredibly short story detailing a day (albeit a rather momentous day) in the life of Jonathan Noel. Jonathan leads a secluded and private life as a bank security guard in Paris. He enjoys the life he has made for himself and is perfectly content with it continuing as such for his remaining years; however, on his way to work one morning this all comes collapsing down around him as he discovers a pigeon on his front porch. As soon as the pigeon entered his life, his life literally came crumbling apart in his mind. All of his carefully made plans became as fragile as a snowflake.
‘…but he suddenly no longer saw himself – that is, he no longer saw himself as a part of the world surrounding him. It was rather, as if for a few seconds he were standing far away, outside it, and were regarding this world through the wrong end of a telescope.’
I became an instant fan of Patrick Süskind after stumbling upon his novel ‘Pefume’. It left such a permanent imprint on me and is still one of my favorite books to date. I’m not sure why I never looked into whether or not he had any additional works, but after embarking on my ‘1001 Books to Read Before I Die’ reading challenge I discovered ‘The Pigeon’ as one of those 1001. Overjoyed, I knew I had to have it.
Patrick Süskind’s writing is so thoroughly impressionable that earlier this afternoon I saw a pigeon on the side of the road and had to suppress a shiver as Jonathan’s fears flooded my mind. Mildly amusing, but, I’m not sure I’ll be able to look at a pigeon the same again. His descriptions of the pigeon and Jonathan’s instant anxiety over the pigeon were immediately understandable even though, looking at the bigger picture, it seemed as if he made a fuss over nothing. I’ll admit, I laughed at first because it seemed quite absurd, but as the story progressed you can see now it’s not just the pigeon that affected poor Jonathan in that manner; it was just the catalyst to a series of events that disrupted his painstakingly normal existence.
I’m giving ‘The Pigeon’ 5 stars for one reason and one reason only (and it’s not because it’s as great a story as Perfume because it isn’t): because he’s a truly amazing writer. I will read anything written by Patrick Süskind. It’s just such a shame that there aren’t more novels of his in existence to read.(less)
Thank you Simon & Schuster for allowing me to read this early! I'm so glad that I had the opportun...moreInterested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!
Thank you Simon & Schuster for allowing me to read this early! I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to read this.
’Two lines that never intersect are parallel. Two lines that intersect forming ninety-degree angles, are perpendicular. Perpendicular lines cross each other. Crossing lines. Today I’m thinking about how easy it is to be perpendicular. And about how, while parallel lines may not intersect, parallel lives too often do.’
Thoughts I got this off of Galley Grab and it went on my list of ‘I might read… maybe’. Truth is I had heard about Ellen Hopkins YA books and wasn’t sure if I’d be able to handle the harshness of the subjects that she writes about and if her YA books were harsh I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from her adult novel. I picked it up one morning when I had some time to kill and was completely blown away. This woman is an amazing writer.
’Falling to pieces. That’s how my life feels. Fractured. Crushed. Disintegrating. And the weird thing is, it’s all because of that stupid little word: love. I’ve fallen in love with *name omitted*, and it’s tinting everything normal about me with shades of insanity.’
I could go into the storyline and what it’s all about, but the summary of the book pretty much says it all. The storyline wasn’t what made this book amazing though, it was the writing. The author also did the most amazing thing with the formatting of each page that really added something spectacular. I’m not often a fan of POV changes, and this book switches the POV often between the three main characters, but it totally worked in this situation. She also used a different font to differentiate between the characters which I thought was a brilliant touch.
As many of you already know, this author writes in verse, and I was not expecting to fall in love with that style of writing as I have. She would write in verse and then often between POV changes she would insert a poem… which was simply remarkable.
This was my favorite piece of hers:
Spilling a Secret What its size, will have varying consequences. It’s not possible to predict what will happen if you open the gunnysack, let the cat escape. A liberated feline might purr on your lap, or it might scratch your eyes out. You can’t tell until you loosen the knot. Do you chance losing a friendship, if that friend’s well-being will only be preserved by betraying sworn-to silence trust? Once the seam is ripped, can it be mended again? And if that proves impossible, will you be okay when it all falls to pieces?(less)