If this is the book I think it is I loved it as a child. It is a beautiful children's story illustrated in watercolour. A sort of long picture book. I...moreIf this is the book I think it is I loved it as a child. It is a beautiful children's story illustrated in watercolour. A sort of long picture book. It tells the story of a girl called Rosaline who, while visiting the city, paints the face of a cherub statue with lipstick to make him look alive and asks him to come play with her. He comes to life and does so, but when she leaves that day he is all alone. A little boy, with no family, and wings, he finds it hard to get by. He finds help in the form of three chickens, whose eggs help him along the way, and they tell him what to do. Eventually, he is reunited with Rosaline, who does not recognise him, for he hides his wings and everyone thinks him a hunchback. This is a really unique and magical story, if you ever find a copy, I advise you to grab it!(less)
I don't usually review the second book in a series because pretty much everything in it is a spoiler for those who have not read the first book, but with this one, I found the second book for $2 and couldn't resist, so be aware that after here, pretty much everything is spoilers.
In this book, the secrets of the first have already been revealed, but they are re-explained, I assume for those who have not read the first or because you have to wait about a year between books. Don't worry, the explanations are not too laboured and long drawn out, they are nice and short, and to the point.
I really enjoyed the mythology of the story. In this alternate version of our world, when a child dies before it reaches adulthood, it reanimates, only without its soul. The child then has either 21 or 17 (I cant remember) years to find the person with its soul (I assume the person who is born later on with that soul after the child's death) and steal that soul with a kiss, thereby gaining back their life but killing the other. If they do not, after that time they will die horribly. Monitors are humans with a special gift: they can sense these Undead and if they become dangerous they will bury them alive, thus killing them. For the Undead can also take the soul of anyone living to gain temporary life.
In the first book Renee Winters discovered both that her parents were dead, that she was a monitor, and that she was in love with an Undead. She gave her soul to her love, Dante, but he later gave it back. She has kept the reason behind her miraculous recovery a secret from everyone, even her grandfather.
Interestingly in this book she finds herself moving again to a new place, having to make new friends, even more of an outsider than before. I found this a nice twist, doing away with the usual return to the already established setting, and throwing her once again into the deep end of finding her way in a strange place and trying to make new friends, and try and find a way to see her beloved, who is now on the run, wrongfully accused of murder.
I am a bit of a sucker for the forbidden love thing. Having been in a similar situation (without the dead stuff, obviously) that sort of thing always really gets me. I like books where the emotions are so raw you feel like your heart is being ripped out and your flesh flayed from your body. I love that books can make you feel that intense an emotion, such strong joy and pain. The great and sometimes tragic love stories have always fascinated us throughout the ages.
Some people write off YA romance, but I would never do that. Sure a lot of YA novels have the same tropes- the three way love triangle, raw adolescent emotions, magical or undead true love, but there is a huge difference in writing quality. I have picked some books up where I cringe a few pages in and have to put them down. And then there are books like this with evocative but not overly flowery language, good pacing, and a heroine who goes out there does things for herself instead of relying entirely on the male characters to rule her fate.
One of the things I sometimes prefer about YA novels is there is less sex and more raw emotion. YA is all about longing and misery, a lot more emotional and Gothic. In many adult books people are more upbeat and always jumping into bed with each other, which is really not my sort of thing. Also I HATE perky characters. I can't identify with ass kicking pun a minute heroines. I like moody odd kids who don't fit in, dealing with forbidden romances. After all, they have a lot more in common with me.
Things I loved
Her new friend Anya, she's a bit alternative, believes in magic, charms, and has quirky, dyed red hair, (although I am not sure about the 'clubbing' outfits, she wears), and is a loner with a history of suicide attempts. I always enjoy seeing a more gritty, dark character in YA books, that gives the reader someone else to relate to other than the heroine.
Noah was an interesting other love interest because he opened up the question of what life might have been like if she grew up in the monitoring world, and she could see the idea of how simple and safe life would be like if she could only love someone like him.
Monitors sensing the dead. The stories in the videos. Her dreams. The task of finding the recently dead animals (grim but fascinating). The monitor training, such as building pyres, always having a weapon.
The ending felt very hurried, the last few pages seemed very rushed, and suddenly rather melodramatic. A chase, a death, a kick to the head (those are really, really hard to do). If not for that ending, I might have given the book full marks!
This book was definitely readable and enjoyable without having read the first book in the series which is definitely a point in its favour. Of course, being part of a series, it does have an open end
I can't definitely decide on a score, mostly because of that ending. I have put it as 4/5 on my Goodreads account, but it is really somewhere around 4.5. I would definitely recommend it. (less)
This collection blew me away! Not only do we see the usual strong and inspiring females from Jennifer and Sarah Diemer's work, but we have a collectio...moreThis collection blew me away! Not only do we see the usual strong and inspiring females from Jennifer and Sarah Diemer's work, but we have a collection of fascinating steampunk and science fiction worlds. Exploring worlds past and future, we are given an insight into humanity.
There is a world where those who aren't perfect (gene def) are second class citizens, one where A group of cloned 'Mary's' live in a lab, watched over by scientists. There are girls who love automatons, and are loved back. Girls made of clay by magical outcast old men, and creatures stitched together from parts of dead children, who still have the power to feel.
If you want to read a creative collection of steampunk and science fiction stories, that grabs to start to finish and never lets go, this is for you! (less)
A beautiful short tale about a girl who is blown about by the wind. She is 'rescued' by an old woman who lives in a big house on a hill, who makes her...moreA beautiful short tale about a girl who is blown about by the wind. She is 'rescued' by an old woman who lives in a big house on a hill, who makes her a pair of shoes so heavy she cannot float away, and sets her to work fixing fishing nets. Although she sees the old woman as her saviour, she eventually comes to realise that she may, in fact be more of a prisoner. The secret of the hidden room and a young man may be enough to show her the magic within...
I loved this story. It was beautifully written, rather reminiscent of my favourite mythic fiction stories by Sarah and Jennifer Diemer. The prose was beautiful and evocative, and it had a slow timeless feel.
I loved how the house itself had a personality, a life of its own. I really love stories that have that aspect.
The theme of freedom and finding strength within yourself is always a beautiful one, and I enjoyed the magical elements of the story too.
I would definitely recommend this book! It is a very special, magical story!(less)
It seems are rare thing nowadays to read a young adult vampire novel that has elegance and refinement. This is surely one of those. From the beautiful...moreIt seems are rare thing nowadays to read a young adult vampire novel that has elegance and refinement. This is surely one of those. From the beautiful sensual descriptions of the house, and the seasons, to the interesting quirky little mentions of things like synaesthesia, and her mother's liking for blue and the letter S, this novel paints a gorgeous picture.
It was very easy for me to identify with the main character who, like me, was homeschooled for the first part of her life, and was very naïve, bookish and unaware of the darkness in the world. I love that she was so sheltered both despite and because of her heritage. Couple that naivety with an unusual intelligence and the character was far from the usual teen narrator, much more fascinating and likeable.
There were a few moments that jarred for me, such as the offhand mention of anorexia and the monkey (intelligent monkeys as pets seems wrong to me), but most of it was beautifully written, and a pleasure to read.
I enjoyed the mild references to alternative culture, such as role playing, Joy Division's Dead Souls and all the music in the jukebox being Nine Inch Nails or Johnny Cash. I loved the way the character tried to work out her identity from all the books and philosophy she read, and the tales of her mother's beautiful blue themed picnic. It sounds like one of the most perfect picnics one could ever think of!
It did end a little abruptly, but most of the first books in YA series usually do, and I can't wait to pick up the second one from the bookshop to find out what happens next. There was a refreshing lack of romance in the story, no girl torn between two boys. It was really about the character's own transformation, both physical and spiritual.
The author created her own vampire mythos, picking and choosing from the already existing ideas, and adding some of her own ideas. The organisation of vampire society in this was very interesting, and I hope to learn more in the next book.
This book was entirely engrossing and very hard to put down. In some ways, it reminded me of Anne Rice's early Vampire Chronicles novels, with its examination of good and evil, and sensual storytelling (sensual as in descriptions using the senses). I look forward very much to reading the next one in this series, and would recommend it to any seeking a more intellectual young adult vampire novel.
An example of the beautiful descriptions in the book:
“She especially liked my bedside lamp, which had a five-sided porcelain shade. Unlit, the shade seemed like bumpy ivory. Lit, each panel came to life with the image of a bird: a blue jay, a cardinal, wrens, an oriole, and a dove. Kathleen turned it off and on again, several times. "How does it do that?"
"The panels are called lithophanes." I knew because I'd asked my father about the lamp, years ago. "The porcelain is carved and painted. You can see it if you look inside the shade."
"No," she said. "It's magic. I don't want to know how it's done.” ― Susan Hubbard, The Society of S
“After we became a couple, she composed our time together. She planned days as if they were artistic events. One afternoon we went to Tybee Island for a picnic; we ate blueberries and drank champagne tinted with curacao and listened to Miles Davis, and when I asked the name of her perfume, she said it was L'Heure Bleue.
She talked about 'perfect moments.' One such moment happened that afternoon; she'd been napping; I lay next to her, reading. She said, 'I'll always remember the sounds of the sea and of pages turning, and the smell of L'Heure Bleue. For me they signify love.” ― Susan Hubbard, The Society of S (less)
This was a fantastic anthology. There are a lot of anthologies out there that are quite patchy, some good, some bad, but this one really maintained a...moreThis was a fantastic anthology. There are a lot of anthologies out there that are quite patchy, some good, some bad, but this one really maintained a great standard. Many of my favourite modern authors such as Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Kelly Link, Elizabeth Knox and Libba Bray were in there, and their stories were fantastic as usual. I also enjoyed the stories but authors whose work I had read less of, or not read at all, and look forward to reading more of their work in the future. There was a great mix of stories, from Victorian, modern day, and post apocalyptic to even steampunk Rome. All of the stories had interesting and inspiring new ideas, and opened up the genre more, instead of just following conventions (if steampunk could really be said to have conventions).
This book definitely gets my six stars out of five rating for a book that goes far beyond what was expected. A truly delightful read!(less)
I actually found the mean spirited nature of the other animals in this book very disturbing, and their eagerness to brand Horton and declare him mad b...moreI actually found the mean spirited nature of the other animals in this book very disturbing, and their eagerness to brand Horton and declare him mad bothered me. It really reflected the way that people have been so eager to stamp out different ideas in the past, such as calling scientists in the past heretics for having ideas like the world being round. Of course, it all ended well, with the lesson that other people's ways of seeing the world are just as valid, but I found it rather frightening, interpreted from an adult 'real-world' viewpoint. A great lesson for children, though!(less)
A childhood favourite!Just found it and re-read it today, and still loved it! A young boy imagines himself having unusual animal attributes such as du...moreA childhood favourite!Just found it and re-read it today, and still loved it! A young boy imagines himself having unusual animal attributes such as duck feet and a whale spout, but then imagines all the things that might go wrong.(less)