After finishing Sisters Red and finding out that it was the first in a fairytale retelling series, I knewPosted on Almost Grown-up on August 27, 2011
After finishing Sisters Red and finding out that it was the first in a fairytale retelling series, I knew I was hooked. I bought Sweetly the day that it was released and I am happy to say that it did not disappoint.
As the summary said this is a modernization of Hansel and Gretel, but since it is Jackson’s series, it takes place in the fictional world she’s created involving Fenris, or werewolves. Gretchen and Ansel both obviously are not over their pasts: Gretchen is a terrified little thing with hair dyed all the colors of the rainbow and Ansel is so apathetic about his life that he liked getting tackled in football because “being knocked to the ground reminded him he was here.” When Gretchen and Ansel find themselves stuck (eventually by choice) in Live Oak, Gretchen asks Samuel Reynolds to teach her how to defend herself against the creatures that stole her sister. Girls are disappearing every year and while Gretchen can’t go back to save her sister… maybe she can save someone else.
Beginning from the prologue, Sweetly is packed with beautifully simplistic descriptions. Two that really stood out for me were: “Her hair was like broken sunlight” and “The bag of candies fell to ground and scattered, rainbow colors in the dead leaves.“ The lines packed a punch but also allowed me to really envision those images.
When Ansel and Gretchen arrive at Sophia’s chocolatier, the house is not made of candy, but it is described using concrete nouns, adjectives, and verbs that evoke a theme of sweet indulgence. “The exterior is a cinnamon shade of wood, with a stone chimney that’s being devoured by ivy. Flower boxes line the white-trimmed windows, filled with what looks like the peppermint plants our mom used to grow. The door is arced and licorice red and sits behind a covered front porch that holds several rocking chairs.” By the time Gretchen tells me that “Outside, the humidity makes the vanilla scent almost drinkable” on the next page, I was reaching for a candy bar.
I enjoyed the exploration of love (whether it is romantic love, familial, or otherwise) as this maddening thing. There’s a Nietzsche quote that is used a couple times in the book and is pretty central to the theme: “There is always some madness in love. But there is always some reason in madness.”
I also loved the progression of Gretchen as someone who is practically afraid of her own shadow to a girl who is kind of a bad-ass. She goes from avoiding the woods at all costs to entering it to actively seek out and conquer her fears.
Jackson says in her acknowledgements that Sweetly seemed impossible to write at times, but I think that the struggle must have just made it that much better.
Basically, I loved this book. I thought that beyond it being a fun paranormal story, there were layers to it. Like a cake.
Rating: 5. I definitely recommend this book… but probably not if you’re trying to diet. I devoured 3 candy bars while reading it. And even if you haven’t read Sisters Red (which you should), Sweetly works just as well as a stand-alone novel....more
This book had me hooked right from the get-go, without reading a single page. I mean, 90s culture discovers Facebook? Yes, pPosted to Almost Grown-up:
This book had me hooked right from the get-go, without reading a single page. I mean, 90s culture discovers Facebook? Yes, please and thank you! I was ecstatic when my hold on it at the library was FINALLY up!
Josh and Emma have finally begun to bridge the gap that’s grown between them since last November when Josh brings over a CD-ROM for a free trial of AOL. But what’s this weird “Facebook” webpage? And who is this unhappy thirty-something with an older version of Emma’s face?
I’m not the first blogger to talk about this and doubtless I will not be the last, but the nostalgia angle of this book was one of my favorite aspects of it. Emma’s got a VCR, they tape episodes of Seinfeld, and Wonderwall is a new song that she likes to play on her Discman. I couldn’t keep a grin from my face. I lived my early years in the nineties and The Future of Us took me straight back there.
Josh and Emma though, are characters that can be related to no matter when decade they’re living through. Friends that are almost more, with typical teenage problems. Emma’s parents are divorced and she’s rather bitter about it. Josh’s parents are somewhat overbearing and it drives him nuts.
But when they have this small window into the future, they’re forced to put their present lives under the microscopes. What are they doing now that lands them where they wind up? And are they happy with how their futures appear on Facebook? Most importantly, should they endeavor to change things based on this knowledge?
For anyone who’s ever said “if I’d known then what I know now,” The Future of Us makes you wonder how you’d be able to live your life if you’re always too busy looking ahead to concentrate on the here and now.
Overall rating: 4/5. Most relatable to those of us who can still remember the nineties, but a delightful read for anyone....more
I so badly wanted to like this book. The plotline reminded me of a YA version of Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin, which iPosted to Almost Grown-up:
I so badly wanted to like this book. The plotline reminded me of a YA version of Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin, which is one of my absolute favorite novels, so I picked this up with not a little excitement.
Unfortunately, I found little to love. At least there was the slight interest in astrology that both Lani and I seemed to share, and enough of an interest to see where the overarching plot and subplots may wind up to make me keep reading, but other than that…
Lani’s style of narration irritated me, particularly when she related instances of dialogue. She presented things as “And then I was like ‘yada yada Jason.’” or “So Erin’s like ____”. Total honesty? Sure, I’ve told a story like that when speaking– as have most people that I know. But in print, it I find that it reads awkwardly and just distanced me from Lani over and over again.
While I found a lot of the characters flat, none bothered me so much as Jason. I didn’t see what was wonderful enough about him to draw both Lani and Erin, nor did I feel the “amazing connection” that he and Lani were supposed to share.
There was a time when I might have actually liked this book, but I think that I wanted it and its characters to be more complex than they were.
Overall rating: 2/5. Unfortunately, this was just not for me. I believe this one is best aimed for the lower age group of spectrum of YA readers, but I’m still curious about Colasanti’s other work, so I may have to check it out....more
I heard about Enthralled because it includes a couple of my favorite authors: Melissa Marr and Jackson Pearce. I’ll admit thPosted to Almost Grown-up:
I heard about Enthralled because it includes a couple of my favorite authors: Melissa Marr and Jackson Pearce. I’ll admit that the story that I was most looking forward to was Jackson Pearce’s Things About Love because it takes place in the As You Wish universe, which was a standalone novel and one that I found adorable.
And while I enjoyed Things About Love immensely, I can’t say that it was my favorite story in the collection.
The thing that was really wonderful about this collection is how different all of the pieces are. Sure, they all have the common thread of the paranormal to bind them together, but they’re all so different. Some are adorable. Some are funny. Some are spooky. Some are damn near chilling.
This basically lead to me reading each new piece and going “Okay, this one’s my favorite. No, this one’s my favorite… no, this one…” and so on and so forth.
I thought about it and realized why. Almost every piece was my favorite in different ways.
Overall rating: 4/5. If you’re looking for an anthology to… well… enthrall you, this is it!...more
I am still trying to stop crying. Amazingly written, but I am so so sad.
What I liked: The gang has grown-up, but their characters remain true to the people that Brashares created way back in book 1. Their problems are both new and old, but it fits with the storyline that we’re already familiar with. The story sucks you in with Brashares’s old style and while I was busy sobbing, I still loved every second of it.
What I didn’t like: How much I cried. Story-wise there was a lot that was downright depressing, but it was the basis for a great deal of the story, so it was necessary.
So, do I rec it? Yes. Yes, yes YES. If you cared anything at all for Carmen, Tibby, Bee, and Lena, read this book. Hell, even if you didn’t read the other Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books, read this book. It’s a story of love, loss, enduring friendships, and coping– with life and all of the curveballs it can throw at you. Read it with a box of tissues close at hand because it’s a tear-jerker. I Couldn’t Put it Down....more
I have been near to foaming at the mouth waiting for this book, a companion novel to Perkins’s debut, Anna and the French KiPosted to Almost Grown-up:
I have been near to foaming at the mouth waiting for this book, a companion novel to Perkins’s debut, Anna and the French Kiss. Anna was one of the best books that I read this year and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Lola.
Lola had many of the same things that I loved about Anna: the writing had a sense of humor and whimsy, but most importantly a romance that felt powerful– but real. It didn’t shock me to read somewhere recently that Perkins based the love in Lola and Anna off of the love that so often comes in paranormal books because there is that sense of magic to them, even if it is in a contemporary setting.
But while I was able to enjoy cameo appearances by Anna and Etienne (just try to wipe the grin off of my face when I see their names), I really enjoyed getting to know Lola and Cricket.
Let’s talk about Lola first. This girl is so damn interesting. She definitely doesn’t have the traditional family structure, with her two fathers and her birth mother later thrown into the mix, but I really appreciated the way that it was approached. Not as one father being the “mom,” but as them both being wonderful co-parents. Lola has just as many teenage rebellion issues that someone with just a mother or a father would have. ESPECIALLY because her boyfriend, Max is five years her senior.
Now, to be honest? As myself, I don’t understand the draw of Max. But as Lola? Lola who likes elaborate costumes, whose goal is never to wear the same thing twice that year, who has a tendency to be a little bit dramatic, and who speaks in capital letters WHEN IT SUITS HER? Yes. Because Max is older. He gets jealous. He’s in a band. He’s nice to her and he (mostly) puts up with her parents and he picked her. I’m not surprised she wears the rose-colored glasses for a while and doesn’t see that he’s a jerk to the Nth degree.
Now… now we can talk about Cricket. Cricket, who makes my heart pitter-patter just from thinking about him. My love for him is matched only by my love for Etienne St. Clair. I want to stride into a party with one of them on each arm. One thing about Cricket? He wants to be there for everyone who matters to him. Another thing about him? He’s upfront about his feelings and OH THE FEELINGS, they TWIST my heart. Something about both of them? Neither one of them has recovered from when they last saw each other two years ago.
Overall rating: 5/5. Perkins has the ability to make you think that True Love can exist in the real world. While Anna is probably my favorite of the two, Lola was an excellent novel in its own right....more
I'll admit it. I was less than eager to pick Divergent up. Yes, I love dystopian novels, but this was one of those booTo be posted on Almost Grown-up:
I'll admit it. I was less than eager to pick Divergent up. Yes, I love dystopian novels, but this was one of those books that so many people loved so much that I thought it had probably been built up.
I was wrong.
The first thing I did upon finishing this book was to text a few friends and tell them to read it immediately because it was like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games had gotten together to make a book baby. I said this largely because much of the structure reminded me of Harry Potter, it's a dystopian, and I knew that they'd read both of those books and loved them. And I was determined for that to become the case with Divergent as well.
But (and I stress this) BUT. This book stands on its own merits.
So let me back up, stop foaming at the mouth over how wonderful this was, and talk about those.
The main character: Tris wants very badly to keep her Abnegation family happy. She loves them after all. But she is Divergent. It's a quality about herself that she must keep a secret or the cost could be great. It means that she could belong to more than one faction, and in her world, that trait is rare. Pretty much unheard of. When the time comes to choose her path and her faction, she picks Dauntless over Abnegation. She's never felt that she belonged in Abnegation and I really had to admire her for being true to herself. As a Dauntless initiate, she is also branded an underdog due both to her size and her home faction.
I couldn't help but root for this underdog.
If Tris wasn't enough, we then meet her instructor, Four. And may I just say...?
Helloooooo, nurse. (Cookie if you got that reference).
I love Tris and I love Four, but I especially love how Veronica Roth develops them separately and together.
Then. THEN, of course, there is the conflict because if there isn't any conflict, there isn't any story, right? And this conflict? IT IS A BIG ONE. And multi-layered. And I cannot decide who the baddest baddie of them all is and that is such an amazing thing because it feels so real.
I ate this book up. Big time. Like, gobble, gobble, gobble eating.
This review got incoherent. And the stopping of the mouth-foaming didn't go so well. I apologize for that. Just lop me in with the fangirls because I loved this book. I also apologize for the gratuitous rambling, caps lock, and italics use.
Rating: 5/5. Needless to say, I have now joined the hoards of people eagerly awaiting the second book in this trilogy, Insurgent!...more
I had to mentally prepare myself to read this story. Suicide is a topic that almost everyone, myself included, tends to shy away from.
Asher uses the uI had to mentally prepare myself to read this story. Suicide is a topic that almost everyone, myself included, tends to shy away from.
Asher uses the unique format of audiotapes in the style of an audiotour to tell Hannah’s story and utilizes a double narration style that is almost haunting because you know how one person’s– Hannah’s– story will end, no matter what other twists and turns the story may take.
Both voices: Hannah and Clay ring extremely authentic. Hannah is a girl with who is angry that no one cared enough (in her eyes), a girl who has given up, and a girl with an understandably macabre sense of humor. And Clay is a boy that liked her who is horrified that he may have somehow caused her to kill herself.
This book makes you second-guess how you treat everyone around you. It makes you realize how one move that you think inconsequential may affect someone else deeply.
Rating: 5. This book is in a class all its own....more
This can’t be appropriately called a review. How can I properly review a book that touched me as deeply as The Fault in OurPosted to Almost Grown-up:
This can’t be appropriately called a review. How can I properly review a book that touched me as deeply as The Fault in Our Stars did? I even considered making a special format purely for this book before I decided to stick with the tried and true.
Looking for Alaska was the only John Green book that I’d read before. And don’t get me wrong. I loved it. It was beautifully written and literary and I think I summed it up with the word “wow.” But it didn’t touch me the way that The Fault in Our Stars did. I just– I don’t know how to say it better than other people have said it already. That Jodi Picoult blurb on the front? 100% agree.
I had a favorite quote from this book that I think sums up how I felt about it: “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once.” I was falling in love with this book– with Hazel, with Augustus Waters, with how they interpret and describe the world around them. And before I knew it, I was in. There was no getting out of how I felt about the book and the characters and it all culminated in about 100 pages of mascara running down my faces as I huddled in my bed with a tissue and this book.
I always vaguely want to thank authors for writing– because obviously I love to read. But I want to thank John Green for writing something that made me feel ALL THE THINGS.
Overall rating: 5/5. Like my initial 1 sentence Goodreads review said: “John Green gets ALL the stars.”...more
You know how you read some books because blogs have been buzzing like CRAZY about them? The hype has built them up soTo be posted on Almost Grown-up:
You know how you read some books because blogs have been buzzing like CRAZY about them? The hype has built them up so far in your mind that you expect them to absolutely BLOW YOUR MIND. And then you read them and things don't quite add up. They're nothing like what the reviews said and you don't understand. They got all of these positive reviews, how could they fall so short?
Listen to me when I tell you that The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is not one of those books. Because it did blow my mind. And then some.
Mara Dyer is a psychological thriller in that the protagonist, Mara experiences frequent hallucinations and symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sometimes the hallucinations are gory, which was creeptastic (it's a word because I say so).
Since the story is told from a 1st person point of view, as a reader, you're never really sure what is real and what is not real. The use of an unreliable narrator was a total mind-warp. And you know? I liked it. A lot.
Then there are the characters. A problem that I often have in novels is that the protagonist is friends with people who don't seem to deserve their friendship. Or the familial relations either fall flat or don't matter to me. But the relationships in this book are different.
Mara has a complicated relationship with her mother. They try to connect with each other but have difficulty after Mara's experiences. And Mara's brothers, Daniel and Joseph obviously care about her but also have the sense of humor that seems to be coded into the DNA of the Dyer children.
And the only friend Mara makes upon moving from is Jamie, who is a genius but outcast from the rest of Croyden, the school she's started at since moving to Miami. Hodkin said at her launch party that Jamie is probably her favorite character outside Mara and I completely understand why. Jamie is a genius, and hilarious, and yes, probably a little bit crazy, but that's part of his charm.
And Noah. Oh, Noah. You know, I really really wanted to hate Noah. He's a cocky arrogant asshole who usually treats girls like crap from what we know about him. But I couldn't because dammit... he was sexy. Like really sexy. And when we see his vulnerable side? Yeah. I couldn't help liking the d-bag.
Another minor problem I had with this novel was the sexual obstacle that Noah and Mara encounter when we're nearly at the end of the book. I didn't see it as an important plot device. It reminded me a various series that I am not a fan of. And there's almost an insta-love/meant to be angle, but Hodkin manages not to be a cliche with her unique voice.
Speaking of the voice: Mara. I want to be this girl's best friend in some ways. She's hilarious at times. And she knows what nom de plume means in high school. Yeah, I could have been best friends with her. You spend the book empathizing with her, worried for her. She's trying to get over some pretty terrible stuff and she's not sure if she's crazy, just has PTSD, or if these things are actually happening.
This review is beginning to get a bit rambly, so I'm going to sum up: I love this book. Go. Buy. It.
Rating: 4.5/5. I adored this book and while I did like Noah, I couldn't get over how much I wanted to hate him. And the obstacle at the end did really irritate me. Still, great book....more
I'm not really sure at what point for me this book turned from "I don't see what all the fuss is about" to "holy crap, I can't believe I only have theI'm not really sure at what point for me this book turned from "I don't see what all the fuss is about" to "holy crap, I can't believe I only have the 1st and 3rd books, this is so perfect."
I feel like I can hear the cries of “WHAT?” “You’re just reading this now?!” “But… but… Notso! MARCUS FLUTIE!” from here. I know, I know, my reading of the life and times of Jessica Darling is overdue. If it weren’t for the fact that this was the FYA March Book Club pick, the poor girl would probably still be sitting on the TBR.
Huzzah! That is not the case!
But in the beginning, I wasn’t as enamored of Jessica “Notso” Darling as everyone told me I’d be. In fact, when her story started off, she drove me NUTS. I felt like she was one of the whinier teenagers that I’d seen when her life didn’t seem all that bad and she seemed to think she was better than everyone else. Fortunately her acerbic wit and hilarious narration kept me reading.
And I read on to discover a girl who, despite her biting humor, can’t connect with many people since her best friend moved away. Her father seems to want a boy, and it seems like her mother would prefer a girly-girl like Jessica’s older sister. When Jessica comes clean with her mom about how she feels, I started crying, something I was not expecting from a book that I’d gone into thinking “comedy.”
And no wonder Jessica thinks she’s above her so-called friends. As I got to know a bunch of them, I thought she was above them too! Granted, we get to see more of Bridget that lets us know we shouldn’t assume things about people (insert obvious assume joke here), but Jessica’s friends personalities are somewhat GRATING.
One person that Jessica does find herself connecting with is Marcus Flutie. And Marcus is… well, he grew on me too. The cynical bitter pothead became funny to me. I guess, like Jessica in the beginning, I couldn’t help seeing him as a “dreg,” but he proves that he is much much more.
Overall rating: 4/5. Jessica grew so much in this first novel that I can’t wait to see how she progresses in Second Helpings....more
I have yet to read a book by Scott Westerfeld that I did not like and Extras is not an exception to this rule. But I had stiPosted on Almost Grown-up
I have yet to read a book by Scott Westerfeld that I did not like and Extras is not an exception to this rule. But I had still been hesitant to pick it up for some time. I knew why. I had grown attached to Tally over the course of the other three Uglies book. I couldn’t imagine stepping back into the world that I so firmly thought of as hers without her!
But when I cracked open Extras, those thoughts vanished because the new world that had grown while Tally had been away was almost unrecognizable. A great deal of the vernacular was the same and the history and events of the Uglies series were certainly taken into account, but the way that things are run have changed.
Everyone is rated and ranked on their popularity on their personal “channel.” The instant you meet someone and know their name, you know their rank and by extension what their lifestyle must be like. I have to say, especially in these days of Klout and social media it doesn’t sound entirely far-fetched. Makes you wonder…
When Aya goes undercover to “kick” a story about her new friends the Sly Girls and what she’s found with them, she’s thrust into fame, her life changing instantaneously. But the cameras aren’t the only things looking for her.
With a touch more romance that the other Uglies book, I finally feel satisfied with the way the Uglies world has been left.
Some bonus factors for me:
-a Tally reappearance
-References to manga eyes (this just made my fangirl heart squee)
Overall rating: 4/5. Don’t wait as long as I did to pick up Extras....more
First disclosure: I waited too long to write this review after reading, so this if this review gets a little vague in placePosted to Almost Grown-up:
First disclosure: I waited too long to write this review after reading, so this if this review gets a little vague in places? That’s how that happened.
Second disclosure: I accidentally spoiled myself a little for this series by reading the anthology Enthralled which features a short story following the series.
I’ve been wary of reading paranormal lately– it tends to hit a lot of my hot buttons with cliches like insta-love, boys-who-know-best, and weak female characters, but Kelley Armstrong started and finished strong.
She started with a prologue from the point of view of the main character Chloe when she’s very young. The narration felt authentic for Chloe’s age and reeled the reader into the upcoming creep factor of the novel. Add that to the fact that she mentioned Sailor Moon (in passing) and I was hers. (Side note: I totally snickered over the fact that there was a girl named “Rae” with pyro tendencies)
I mentioned the creep factor before, but it bears repeating. Chloe (and by extension, I) was never sure what to believe or who she could trust in Lyle house. Even during more relaxed scenes, the niggling sensation that I couldn’t forget the larger issues hung over me, which made me feel further connected to Chloe.
There were some more unusual magics explored in The Summoning, which made me want to throw my arms up and cheer “Hooray! Not every paranormal is about a vampire or a werewolf! There are other kinds of magic people out there!”
The mysteries of Lyle house unravel at a satisfying pace and the end is full of turns, plenty of action, and a gratifying twist.
Overall rating: 4/5. I seem to constantly be undertaking new series, but I don’t regret undertaking The Darkest Powers trilogy. I look forward to grabbing the next one!...more
After reading Divergent, I felt like I started foaming at the mouth with want every time the word Insurgent was mentioned. TPosted to Almost Grown-up:
After reading Divergent, I felt like I started foaming at the mouth with want every time the word Insurgent was mentioned. That’s probably a bit creepy, but I friggin’ LOVED Divergent and was beyond excited to continue reading a new favorite series. The day Insurgent came out found me walk-jogging into the nearest bookstore to buy my own copy.
We catch up with Tris nearly immediately after her would-be initiation day and the battle that took place there. To be perfectly honest, I am both glad and and disappointed that I couldn’t make time to reread Divergent beforehand, so I wasn’t bothered by any reported continuity errors, but I found myself struggling to recall the exact events that are referred to throughout Insurgent.
My reading of Insurgent was a somewhat confused one. Tris, Tobias (Four), and others that they travel with move around a lot. My feelings… and essentially ratings then started to fluctuate wildly.
After less than ideal circumstances, Tris and Four are now together. But their relationship no longer feels like a healthy one. It seems they argue as much as they do anything else and Four starts pulling one of my least favorite behaviors, occasionally adopting an “I know best” attitude. Fortunately, it’s not a constant thing for him, so it only irritated me and didn’t make me hate him.
Tris becomes a character who starts to feel a bit flat to me as well. Her Divergence and aptitude for other factions seems like an excuse to make her a little too much of the hero. Certain scenes have other characters turning to Tris for advice because she had an aptitude for Erudite, so despite her age, lack of training or experience in that faction, lack of insider knowledge, and lack of seniority even within her own faction, clearly she’s the best one to make a plan. It felt like a stretch.
The long slog through the middle of the novel moving from faction to faction had me somewhat bored.
The difference between those scenes and the action is marked. Because adventure and action is where Veronica Roth’s writing really shines. Those were the scenes that had me wide-eyed, frantically turning to the next page. Those were the scenes that had me completely in their thrall and pulled the Insurgent’s rating up for me.
And that ending… hoo boy. What a cliffhanger. Let’s just say that I can’t wait for the next novel.
Overall rating: 3.5/5. Not as much of a WOW as Divergent, but a decent follow-up. ...more
The name Chime may ring a bell. Though the National Book Awards this year were surrounded by controversy, it was a nominee (Posted to Almost Grown-up
The name Chime may ring a bell. Though the National Book Awards this year were surrounded by controversy, it was a nominee ( it was confused, at first with Shine by Lauren Myracle).
Both books immediately went on my TBR list.
I despaired over Chime at first. I mean, it was beautifully written and Billingsley chooses moments to “break the rules” of writing (POV for instance), and manages to pull it off admirably, so it was easy to say how the NBA nomination happened. The first 100 or so pages were difficult for me to get into though.
But after I passed that benchmark? OH MAH GAW.
Briony is such an amazing character. She’s convinced that she’s wicked and wonders what it might be like to be a normal girl. In the hands of a different writer, I might have felt the martyrdom of it to be irritating, but Billingsley has such an amazing talent, that it worked. She uses words and descriptions that never would have occurred to me, but are perfect.
Chime ended up being a novel that I not only admired, but envied. Billingsley’s writing is masterful.
Overall rating: 4.5/5. If I had felt as strongly about the first 100 or so pages as I did about the rest of the book, it would have been a 5/5. Easily....more
I was excited when I pre-ordered The Madness Underneath. There were two big reasons for this. 1) I loved The Name of The StaPosted to Almost Grown-up:
I was excited when I pre-ordered The Madness Underneath. There were two big reasons for this. 1) I loved The Name of The Star and was excited to see where the story went next.
2) …it came with kick-ass stickers.
Stickers aside, I was relieved to find that my anticipation had not been for nothing. Maureen Johnson’s voice in Rory is just as fresh as ever. I wanted the girl to be my BFF from time to time because… well, I suspect Rory is secretly a Tumblr user when she explains her reason for doing something with “Because Stephen.”
The Madness Underneath is not QUITE as spooky or fast-paced as The Name of the Star. The sense of danger is as omnipresent because there’s a little less mystery about the killings. The Madness Underneath is more about Rory finding her own path, while still being a hilarious ghostbuster.
One thing I appreciate with Maureen Johnson’s series is that, when we have swoony times, it’s not all about the ONE TRUE LOVE thing. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love those books too, but Johnson seems keenly aware of reality in that her characters as teenagers and likely will not be with the first person they date forever.
BUT in regards to OTP happiness, never have my emotions swerved so quickly in 180 degree-type turn. One minute I’m overjoyed, the next, I was SCREAMING. And then the book ended. Because I think perhaps Maureen Johnson practices reader torture in her spare time.
To sum up: I loved this book, but lord am I WAILING over the end. I need a support line to call....more
I picked this audiobook up at a library sale quite some time ago, but on most long drives, I preferred to jam out to tTo be posted on Almost Grown-up:
I picked this audiobook up at a library sale quite some time ago, but on most long drives, I preferred to jam out to the radio. On my most recent trip to Orlando, however, I felt like being more entertained. I had a 3 hour trip up and a 3 hour trip back, so the 5 hours and 33 minutes of listening time sounded just about perfect.
Mary Kay Andrews paints a lovely picture in the beginning. Keeley Murdock is about to marry A.J. Jernigan, the “love of her life” and the son of one of the most influential families in town. When Keeley calls off the wedding (well-deserved– A.J.’s a cheating scumbag), his family takes it upon themselves to ruin her interior design business.
Luckily enough however, a rich new client has just come into town: Will Mahoney. Mahoney’s just bought the town “bra plant,” and they’re all biting their lips over whether or not he’ll be laying people off or not. Keeley gets over her distaste of the man to perform the interior design job he’s set for her. It’s ludicrous, of course. The deadline’s insane and it’s for a woman that Will wants to marry, but has never met.
Having no idea what, exactly, I was in for, I was a little worried that there would be some lurid sex scenes. I don’t mind reading them, but imagined that listening to them might make me squirm. I needn’t have worried. The only red flags were some profanity and a little sexual content (nothing detailed).
The narration by Isabel Keating was also performed admirably. Keating uses different tones for each character, ramping up and toning down the Southern accent as needed.
Hissy Fit was full of laugh out loud moments, wildly funny characters, and some self-discovery as well.
It certainly made my drive go by much more quickly.
Overall rating: 3.5/5. A great “test drive” for someone new to audiobooks, like me!...more
It was impossible for me to resist the lure of Robin Wasserman’s The Book of Blood and Shadow once I read reviews that likenPosted to Almost Grown-up:
It was impossible for me to resist the lure of Robin Wasserman’s The Book of Blood and Shadow once I read reviews that likened it to a YA (and better) version of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Quite honestly, I loved Dan Brown’s novels when I last read them. Would I feel the same if I read them today? Who knows? But I did love The Book of Blood and Shadow.
The parallels are easy to draw; a murder involving secret societies takes the main character across the sea to solve and necessitates the knowledge of certain academia to solve.
Beside plot minutiae, there is a huge difference between the two. Not to sound pretentious douche, but while The Da Vinci Code is rather plot driven, The Book of Blood and Shadow is driven a great deal by the actions and motivations of the main character, Nora. The impetus for Nora’s movements are solid and real and make sense given what she knows and what she’s lost.
Excepting a painfully sad flash-forward narrating prologue (which didn’t bother me as much as it usually does, surprisingly), the beginning of The Book and Blood and Shadow is rather light. We’re not yet encumbered with a dangerous mystery that results in bloodshed. Nora has two wonderful best friends and an interesting work study position. She’s in love.
She’s even beginning to feel a kinship with the woman who wrote the supposedly unimportant letters she was assigned to read for her work study. And why not? The similarities of their lives are impossible to miss, despite the centuries separating them.
It’s all so perfect… until little things start to go wrong. Wasserman masterfully builds smaller moments of tension. That is, until we arrive back at that opening moment when we know there’s been a death and Wasserman delivers a wallop in the form of a murder.
That’s when the adventure really begins.
Many novels that take us overseas get the label of a “romp.” Not so with The Book of Blood and Shadow. The foreign backdrop reinforces the mystery. Our characters are in an unfamiliar place stuck in a situation that they don’t truly understand. Robin Wasserman pulls you into her mystery, leaving a trail of clues from a history that is half-fabricated and half-legitimate.
The amazing thing about this is that while the focus is, of course, untangling the mess they’re in, Nora is still so authentic. She spares thoughts for grief and for her relationships and friendships. It’s balanced properly so that I don’t want to strangle her for being either a) inhuman or b) foolish for ignoring her bigger problems.
One note that I have to make was that The Book of Blood and Shadow made me a little sad. Two sets of people with differentiating ideals were moved to violence over it. And that’s real… but as a commentary on humanity, depressing.
Overall rating: 4/5. The Book of Blood and Shadow is an amazingly crafted mystery that draws on history to further it....more
I finished Just One Day hours ago. And I’ve been almost useless since I closed the book because wow. WOW.
I have just been busy marinating in my own feelings.
I related to Allyson a whole hell of a lot. At the beginning of the book, she’s the quintessential “good girl.” She does what she’s told, does what’s expected of her, and lets other people’s expectations be thrust upon her. But then she meets Willem, swoony dutchy boy extraordinaire, and she takes a big risk. For once, she does what no one expects.
And she has the best time doing it.
Lord, did this book make me want to go to Paris. Which is interesting because Willem and Allyson don’t necessarily do a lot of “sight-seeing.” But France comes alive through their spur of the moment adventure. And over the course of “Just One Day,” not only does Allyson (or, as Willem knows her, “Lulu”) fall for Willem in a big way (and trust me, as a reader, you will too), she sort of finds herself. Or who she wants to be, anyway. Someone that has adventures, does things that are a little unexpected. Someone who lets herself free of the box that she’s shut herself inside.
This book is definitely swoontastic (and goodness gracious, I use this word a lot, but it just FITS). Willem is enthralling, makes Allyson feel sometimes like she’s the only one who matters– but sometimes, making her feel like she’s not special at all when she sees him interact with other girls. That’s part of the growing she does over the course of the novel, I think. She’s less threatened by other women he’s interacted with, makes herself face them and that he has a past. And Willem is definitely flawed. Like Allyson, we only know him for a day and we don’t know his whole history, but we definitely see both the good and the bad.
And can’t help falling for him anyway.
But yes, though the swoon made me grow wide of eye and short of breath, it was when Willem leaves Allyson that I connected the most. Because then Allyson has to find her way back to that person that she wants to be without someone to guide her.
And it takes some doing.
This was the point at which I started to cry because honestly knowing you have every reason to get over someone, knowing it was short-lived and that the l-word shouldn’t fit in the situation, and knowing that you’re expected to be over it– it’s hard when you’re just not, and feel like you’ve lost a bit of yourself along the way.
I think that beyond swoon and that discovery of self, Just One Day is about changing relationships. Allyson does a lot of working to get her parents to see who she wants to be and she drifts apart from her childhood best friend. It’s frustrating at time, but I never felt like Gayle Forman pigeon-holed Allyson’s mother other former BFF as ‘villains.’ In the case of her mother, they have some work to do, but in the case of the best friend, they simply grow into people that don’t mesh as perfectly as they used to. And that’s okay. It’s life. In every way possible, Just One Day is a book that will stay with you. At least… I know it will stay with me.
To sum up: Read Just One Day if you want to feel and feel a lot. You will not be disappointed....more