I didn't read No One Else Can Have You until just a few days before its release partly because I was a little hesitant to begin. Reviews started coming out and they weren't good. At all. There were even a few bloggers who share a very similar taste in books with me that couldn't stand this debut - some couldn't even finish it! Despite the reviews declaring this novel weird and odd I was still curious. Anyone who follows Kathleen on twitter can easily get a feel for her sense of humor; I personally love both it and her, so in true Leah fashion, I ignored the naysayers and dove in.
And you know what? No One Else Can Have Youis weird. It is odd. But it worked beautifully to create an overwhelming sense of unease that was PERFECT for a murder mystery. For a good portion of this novel I felt extremely uncomfortable and I loved it. Hats off to you, Ms. Hale!
There was a time when the tiny Wisconsin town of Friendship lived up to its name. Everyone knew everyone by name, families stretched back for generations, and no one locked their doors. One night - and one girl - changed everything. When Ruth never showed up at Kippy's house, Kippy thought she bailed on their sleepover. It wasn't until the following morning that the truth came out: Ruth had been brutally murdered - suffocated with straw - and posed to look like a scarecrow in a cornfield. Fingers immediately start pointing to Ruth's boyfriend, but Kippy isn't completely convinced he's responsible. Armed with Ruth's diary (Ruth's mother asked Kippy to read it first and Sharpie out all the sex parts) Kippy sets out to uncover the truth behind her best friend's death.
Kippy, with her wardrobe full of turtleneck sweaters, was far too awkward for me to connect with, but that only made her more intriguing. There were many scenes where she seemed very young both emotionally and mentally and her voice came across as strange. Also, for a good chunk of the book I was under the impression that Kippy had been in love with Ruth. It's not a stretch at all to say Kippy was obsessed with her best friend - and for a while I entertained the thought that perhaps Kippy had been the murderer.
I will admit this book definitely is NOT going to be for everyone. One of the main characters, Ruth's brother, has recently returned from Afghanistan minus a finger and suffers from PTSD. There's talk of domestic violence and abusive relationships. At one point Kippy is sent to an institution and the characters there are all shown for comedic effect.
Readers looking for an eerie, character-driven thriller will find just that in No One Else Can Have You. There's certainly no lack of deeply flawed townsfolk in Friendship, Wisconsin. While this novel may not be for everyone, the readers who enjoy it will really enjoy it. It's gruesome and dark and I couldn't get enough. Also: if that cover was an actual sweater I would be all over it.(less)
Prior to reading Buzz Kill, Beth Fantaskey was an author I knew very little about. Sure I had heard of Jessica...morethis review will go live on the blog5/6
Prior to reading Buzz Kill, Beth Fantaskey was an author I knew very little about. Sure I had heard of Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side and the following books in the Jessica series, but I had never read them. It's always a little concerning when an author switches genres - will they be able to pull it off? In this case, Fantaskey makes the move from paranormal to a contemporary mystery. And I have to hand it to her, she surpassed all expectations!
When Millie Ostermeyer discovers the murdered body of Coach Killdare, she's not exactly losing sleep. Killdare wasn't the most popular person at Honeywell High. Not by a long shot. What does surprise Millie is that her dad, Mayor and assistant coach, is the number one suspect. Eager to clear his name and find the real killer, Millie launches an investigation using her position on the newspaper staff to get up close and personal with the local police. Along the way she's joined by Chase Albright, a boy carrying dark secrets of his own, and frequently consults the prime source on all things teen sleuth: Nancy Drew.
Wow. WOW. If Fantaskey's books are all this readable, I seriously need to get crackin'! Buzz Kill was a thoroughly entertaining novel, one I wanted to read and read and read as well as slowly enjoy. In true Nancy Drew fashion, there's a list of suspects from the get-go, as well as two besties, lots of eavesdropping, and general sneaking around. This book definitely believes in the "don't judge a book by its cover" adage; characters that are initially deemed villains turn out to be misunderstood and vice versa - wait until you discover Chase's secret! Talk about a tortured past!
My reviews usually contain more substance, but there's nothing more than needs to be said for Buzz Kill. I devoured it in a single sitting - though I really did try to make it last! A quick pace, short chapters, and gripping mystery made this an extremely fun read. My only concern was with Millie herself. More than once I forgot she was a senior. Her voice and actions came across as someone much younger. Regardless, I had a blast with this book. If your childhood revolved around Nancy and her friends, you'll want to check out Buzz Kill!(less)
this review will go live 02/02. for the full review and more stop by the blog!
Today history will be made. In a few hours' time, the state will vote on...morethis review will go live 02/02. for the full review and more stop by the blog!
Today history will be made. In a few hours' time, the state will vote on whether or not California will secede from the United States and become its own entity, a new republic. Despite this momentous moment, Doctor Julie Walker has a more pressing matter at hand: her husband wants a divorce and her once-estranged sister is in labor. In the midst of it all is Dennis, a man Julie first met years ago who's obsession with her is nothing short of terrifying. After taking several nurses and attendants hostage, Dennis insists the only person he wants to speak to is Julie - and he wants to hear a story.
Golden State is a slim thing of a novel - barely over 250 pages - with chapters averaging 2-3 pages. Despite its near-nothing length and blinding pace, there's a lot of story packed in these pages: Dennis and the hostages; Heather's quickening contractions; the divorce; California's possible secession. Through it all Julie's memories begin to bubble up from their hidden depths. Memories of the night she met Tom, the child that once made them a family, and what Heather did to ruin everything.
Fans of linear storytelling will want to steer clear of Golden State. From the beginning you're thrown into this story with no clue as to where - or when - the next chapter will take you. Time skips and flashbacks are used to great effect, though it took me a few chapters to get a feel for it and to acclimate myself with Ms. Richmond's style of writing. Once I did, however, it was smooth sailing and everything was, well, golden.
Throughout the entire story I wanted answers. Why was Dennis holding up the hospital? What did Heather do? Who was this boy Tom and Julie loved and what could have happened to him? In the end everything plays out beautifully, and the ride there makes it all worthwhile. Tom's radio show provides a soundtrack of sorts to the novel. Al Green, Wilco, and countless others receive mentions and their songs further the story. Even with their pending divorce Tom continues to send messages to Julie through his song choices.
While reading I couldn't help but draw parallels to one of my favorite books of 2012, Karen Thompson Walker's The Age of Miracles. Fans of that novel are sure to enjoy Golden State for one simple fact: the Big Event takes a backseat to the characters. In The Age of Miracles the Earth's rotation was bringing about an apocalypse of sorts, yet the story focused on a 12-year-old girl as she went to school and made friends. Golden State doesn't exactly downplay the secession plot, but it certainly doesn't take centerstage. Instead this is more a novel about a marriage, a family, and moving on from the past.
I'm not one to stay up reading into the wee hours. Golden State's purely addictive writing made it impossible for me to put it down. What's another chapter when the chapter is only 2 pages? Before I knew it it was going on 2AM and I was hooked. Golden State digs deep into what it means to let go and live and I loved every minute of it. Michelle Richmond is now firmly on my radar and I'll be sure to check out her previous novels.(less)
For many bloggers - myself included - The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was one of 2013's most anticipated release...morethis review will go live on the blog8/30
For many bloggers - myself included - The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was one of 2013's most anticipated releases. Seriously, read over that summary again. Sounds awesome, right? Unfortunately, this was a case where the idea was way better than its execution. I've come to dub this the Matthew Pearl Effect after the author Matthew Pearl whose books all sound FANTASTIC, but trick me every single time. A.E. Rought's Broken suffers from this as well. Sadly it looks as though The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is the latest victim of the MP Effect.
Tana's world is very similar to ours but with the addition of vampires and secured cities called Coldtowns. These Coldtowns are a prison sentence for the humans living inside - there's no way to get out. Once you're inside a Coldtown, you're inside for good. With popular livefeeds and reality shows vampires have reached celebrity status and many humans are actively looking to become infected and turn Cold. The idea of living forever and attending the Eternal Ball is all too glamorous to pass up.
What started as a normal house party quickly turns into a nightmare after Tana wakes to discover a bloodbath - literally. Blood paints the walls, the floors, flies have already started making their move. After discovering her ex-boyfriend chained to a bed and a chained-up vampire on the floor, Tana makes a decision to save them both. Soon the three are making their way to the closest Coldtown and Tana slowly comes to terms with the possibility of not only being infected, but also never seeing her family again.
This review is hard for me to write and I've been struggling to get my thoughts down. To be honest, not a whole lot happened in this book. I usually get through a book in two days - a single sitting if it's extremely entertaining. With Coldtown I spent a WEEK chugging away, slowly getting nowhere. How could a vampire story be so boring?
Admittedly there were some really interesting ideas presented like the turning process and the Coldtowns themselves. Everything else seemed to bog down the story with unneeded details and derails. Certain chapters felt as through they were thrown in as an afterthought - there was simply no organization or reasoning to some scenes.
One thing that struck me as odd throughout the novel were the many references to sites like Twitter, Flickr, and Youtube. While it works today, I'm worried that The Coldest Girl in Coldtown will feel terribly dated in a few years.
I had extremely high hopes not only for this book, but for Holly Black. This was my first novel of hers and I had been hearing wonderful things about her work for years. While I'm not ready to pass judgement on her just yet, I think it'll certainly be a while before I pick up another book. As for The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, it will certainly have its readers. Unfortunately, its target audience was not me.(less)
Wren Gray has always been the classic Good Girl. She's followed her parents orders, studied hard, and swore off boys that would distract her from her schoolwork. An early acceptance letter to Emory was part of her parents' plan. What her parents don't know, however, is that Wren is hiding a secret: she withdrew her acceptance to college and made plans to do volunteer work in Guatemala.
Charlie Parker has had a string of foster families. His current family - foster parents Chris and Pamela and younger brother Dev - are perfect and accept him as their own, yet his past won't let him belong. His memories haunt him still, but with high school coming to an end, Charlie wants to make a change.
The Infinite Moment of Us is my first Myracle novel and I expected great things. The first half of the book was flawless. The second half however...that's a different story.
Wren and Charlie come from two very different backgrounds: Charlie is the poor foster kid whose family is struggling to make ends meet while Wren is the Perfect Child every parents wants. Wren comes to the realization that she's been living her life for her parents and wants to break away, become a new person in a new country. When Wren and Charlie first meet - though meet isn't exactly the right word; they had gone to school together and Charlie had a bit of a crush on Wren - it's sweet albeit a little too fast for my taste. Not instalove though.
Things aren't sunshine and rainbows for the couple - Charlie's sort-of ex is wildly possessive (even though they're no longer together) and sends him a barrage of texts and calls whenever Charlie's with Wren. She even goes so far as to call him with an 'emergency' in an attempt to get him away from Wren. Naturally Wren begins to doubt his feelings - why would he say he loves her, yet run off to be with another girl? There were even times when Charlie lied about getting calls from Starrla. He'd say they were calls from his family (Dev is handicapped and it's not uncommon for the family to make impromptu trips to the hospital). While Charlie is no longer in love or even infatuated with Starrla, his constant visits to her apartment bothered me. He justifies his action by claiming they're both broken and they know each other and their problems. No. Sorry, Charlie, you didn't win any points from me with that one.
A large part of this book focuses on sex and I'm all about sex-positive YA/NA. That said, a comment from Wren completely shocked me and it was at this point the book began heading downhill:
"I don't want my first time to be with a condom unless we have to."
Oh, Wren. Seriously?
The Infinite Moment of Us has an ending that's overly sappy and insanely selfish on Wren's part. To recap, Wren and Charlie began chatting their last day of school. So, what, June? They've been dating two months at this point. Wren is still determined to head to Guatemala and she's upset that Charlie won't come with her. She feels he spends too much time with his family and that he chooses them over her. She does acknowledge how selfish she's being, which is good, but she refuses to answer his calls and texts. The ending caught me off guard - and not in a good way. I had hoped for a different sendoff and the book let me down.
Despite its flaws, The Infinite Moment of Us was an enjoyable, entertaining read. The secondary characters absolutely shine and the dual narrative makes me so giddy. Whether you're a fan of Myracle or are looking for a quick beach read, The Infinite Moment of Us is sure to please.(less)
this review goes live on the blog02/03 along with a giveaway!
Shortly after obtaining her PhD yet still unable to find a job, Lee Lien returns home. H...morethis review goes live on the blog02/03 along with a giveaway!
Shortly after obtaining her PhD yet still unable to find a job, Lee Lien returns home. Her relationship with her mother is frosty at best, yet her beloved grandfather always finds a way to smooth things over. The family's latest restaurant, the Lotus Leaf, has a steady string of customers, and Lee is more than ready to try a few changes, switch things around in an attempt to really get business booming. The Liens' world comes to a halt with the unexpected return of Sam, Lee's brother. As the oldest (and the male), Sam is the golden child, the one who is set to inherit the restaurant (whether he wants it or not), and his actions are always forgiven. In his mother's eyes he can do no wrong. So when he empties the cash register - and his mother's jewelry box - to start a new life out west, Mrs. Lien cleans the entire house and waits for the day when he'll return.
With Sam's departure, Lee discovers a token he left behind for her: a small pin from a lifetime ago in Vietnam. Since she was a child, Lee has heard her mother and grandfather tell stories about their cafe in Saigon and how they were visited by a nice American woman. Whether she purposefully left the pin behind they can't say, but it has remained with them decades later, making the trip to America and a new life. As Lee digs deeper into the pin's story, she uncovers a hidden history that could potentially link her family to Laura Ingalls Wilder.
I had been looking forward to Pioneer Girl since I first heard about it last year and I'm thrilled to say it did not disappoint! In fact, it exceeded all expectations and then some! Essentially there are two stories in this novel: Lee's and Rose's. When I read novels where the focus is on multiple characters, I usually find myself preferring one over the other but I'm pleased to say that was not the case in Pioneer Girl. I was as invested in Lee's story as I was in Rose Wilder Lane's and because of that, I wound up breezing through the book much quicker than I would have liked (this is a novel to be slowly savored).
As interesting as Lee's family was, Rose was an equally fascinating woman in her own right. Prior to Pioneer Girl I had a rough idea of who the Wilder family was and what The Little House on the Prairie series was all about. Somehow I managed to skip these books as a child, but Pioneer Girl piqued my interest. Especially with the rumors that Rose was actually the writer, not Laura, and that Rose would fudge details and expand upon anecdotes for the sake of a good story. She even demanded that Laura write solely in third person in their letters!
Despite being a history buff (and spending many elementary school computer classes playing Oregon Trail), I tend to see the Old West and prairie life through rose-colored glasses. While reading Pioneer Girl it became all too evident that times were hard - if not downright brutal - for pioneers. Rose was the only child of the Wilders to survive to adulthood and she herself lost her only child after a few days. Her relationship with Laura was hardly affectionate and she wound up leaving home to make it on her own in a city. Rose married for sex and divorced the man a few years later, determined to lead an independent life. As her journalism career took off, Rose traveled the world - most notably to Vietnam where she covered the war in the 1960s. Her vocal political stance took on a life of its own and she's now considered to be one of the founders of the American Libertarian Movement, along with Ayn Rand.
If I could go back and read Pioneer Girl all over again (I definitely see a re-read of this book in the future!) I would take my time with it and really sink into this world of Vietnamese cuisine and farmsteads. Nguyen doesn't have many books to her name at this point: Short Girls and a memoir entitled Stealing Buddha's Dinner, but they're now on my radar and I can't wait to track down my own copies! Whether you're looking for diversity (her novels feature Vietnamese families and culture) or simply want a good book, Bich Minh Nguyen is an author to keep your eye on.(less)
They come out of the sky and take you. Everyone knows that.
Six years ago, life in Riley's town changed. Without warning, the angels appeared and began taking people. That first year was the worst; no one knew what had happened or what was going on. Where did these people go? They weren't dead, they simply vanished after being taken into the sky. The second year, however, the town was ready. They knew what to expect, yet there was no way to stop it.
With each Taking, more and more friends and family vanished and the town viewed it as their own awful curse. It wasn't until Pastor Warren's arrival that things began to change. With his sermons and flashy way of preaching, he was able to convince the townsfolk that, no this wasn't a curse, this was a blessing. The Taking is actually the Glory and is something to be worshiped and desired. Soon the entire town - whether voluntary or involuntary - are under his spell and go along with his word.
One of the few members of the town not to accept the pastor's message is Riley Carver. Sixteen and a bit of an outsider, she'd all but shut down after losing her best friend in the previous year's Taking. When one of the angels shows up outside her bedroom window, she's ready to take action and in the process, shoots it. Unfortunately for Riley, the angel is no longer an angel. He's a boy, naked and confused and thinks he's still in the 1950s.
We all know to beware the hype machine, right? I know I've certainly given in multiple times, only to realize I actually HATE the book. Guys, Outcast is worth it. It deserves all the hype and then some! I'm typically not a big fan of paranormal, but this one was fantastic. Ms. Kress took these angels, turned them around, and made it believable. I know it's a little hard to picture a novel about angels stealing people as believable, but the novel does it in such a way that the paranormal elements aren't overdone and that is what makes it so great.
What really made the novel for me, though, were the characters. They were beautifully fleshed out and spot-on. Riley is still hurting over the loss of Chris and she battles with her newfound emotions for Gabe. Her internal struggle was incredible and made her shine as a character. Gabe had been one of those creatures until Riley shot him. Now he's a super hot Greaser who believes he's still in his present - 1956. Gabe was great and their friendship was wonderful. He's a total playboy, but doesn't hide his intentions. His sheer terror of the Internet was beyond adorable. Lacy, a stereotypical cheerleader; Father Peter, Hartwich's largely ignored Catholic priest; Pastor Warren, the slimy and oh-so-charming man who hovers during his weekly Commune. Each character was remarkably well-done.
An added bonus was the inclusion of Riley's parents. Both are featured heavily in the novel and even call Riley out on letting a boy come before schoolwork. Way to go, Mr. & Mrs. Carver!
The novel's only downfall was the ending. Well, endings. Plural. The first was absolutely heartbreaking and I kept hoping it wasn't going to happen. Sadly, it did, and I was left in pieces. That wasn't the end, however. There was still another chapter and another ending. It would have been more of an emotional impact if there had only been the first ending, but even with the second, I still had that punched-in-the-gut feeling.
An original plot, beautifully crafted characters, and emotions galore made Outcast a quick favorite. It's short and can easily be read during a bright and sunny weekend and I know it's one I'll be revisiting again soon.(less)
Mere words cannot defeat a true hero. Unless they happen to be the words to some sort of Instant Death spell. Magic is scary.
Last year, The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom took the Middle Grade world by storm (read my 5-star review here!). The sequel, The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle was one of my most highly-anticipated 2013 releases and - spoiler! - Christopher Healy didn't let me down!
With one adventure under their belt, the four Princes Charming - Liam, Gustav, Duncan, and Frederic - are back home and starting to feel a little restless. Prince Liam is dreading his upcoming wedding day; despite being all muscle, Gustav is once again the runt of his family; Frederic is suspicious of his wife's friendship with Liam; Duncan is happy as can be and it's driving the dwarves insane.
After Liam is kidnapped (by none other than his fiancee!), a messenger is sent to round up the remaining princes: it's time for the League of Princes to join forces once more. This time they're aided by Ella and Lila, Liam's younger sister. Unfortunately, their rescue attempt doesn't quite go according to plan and suddenly they've got an even bigger mission: retrieve an ancient heirloom that gives its wielder immense power. While the sword once belonged to Liam's family, the pre-teen Bandit King Deeb Rauber now has it and he's not giving it up that easily.
"I admire your ability to insult your friends while you defend them. It's a rare talent."
Unlike other sequels, going into this one I had no worries whatsoever. I couldn't wait to jump back into this world and Storming the Castle is everything a sequel should be! All of my favorite characters are back, as well as a few new ones, and the humor is seriously top-notch. This is the perfect book to read aloud to a classroom - especially with the AMAZING ILLUSTRATIONS!
Although this is a truly funny book, it does have a more serious side. Liam's going through a pretty huge identity crisis after discovering a secret. He doesn't feel as though he's a real hero and that he's been living a lie. I loved reading his worries and fears - though there were moments when I wanted to shake him silly.
"Who brings a giant on a stealth mission?"
For a league of Princes, it's the ladies that steal this show. Ella, Lila, and Briar Rose are fantastic. Ella and Lila are totally kickass and Briar Rose is the embodiment of a spoiled brat. I also loved seeing more of the bounty hunter, Ruffian the Blue (or Mr. the Blue, as Snow White calls him). Seeing Papa Scoots Jr. and Mr. Troll once more made my heart happy. ♥
Okay, confession time: I hate writing reviews for books I love. It's SO. HARD. trying to convey my feelings (all the feelings) in any sort of coherent manner. The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle is every bit as fantastic as the first book - if not better! It boasts a pretty decent page count - just shy of 500 pages! - but reading was a breeze. Whether you're just starting the series or are eager to revisit this world, definitely check this one out. I see HUGE things happening in the third - including new romances??? - and I can't wait!(less)
On a seemingly ordinary day, a Hello Kitty lunchbox is washed ashore on Ruth's small island in Canada. Inside she discovers old letters and a diary written in Japanese along with a few other mismatched items. At the prompting of her husband Oliver, Ruth begins to translate the diary and soon both husband and wife find themselves deeply invested in the life of a sixteen-year old suicidal Japanese girl.
Nao used to have a good life. Her father was a hotshot programmer and provided a wonderful childhood for Nao in Sunnyvale, California. Unfortunately, when the dot-com bubble burst, Haruki Yasutani was let go and the family moved back to Japan. Because she had been so young when the family took off for America, Nao never fully considered herself Japanese and to say her classmates treated her horribly would be putting it lightly. It started out small: pinches and hurled insults. Things quickly escalated and Nao found herself dealing not only with her fellow students, but also with her teacher. Even when they pretended she wasn't there they were still cruel, going so far as to stage a funeral for her. One particularly heartless attack led to Nao nearly being raped. With each attack videos were posted online and Nao's parents had no idea just how harsh the bullying became.
I don't mind thinking of the world without me because I'm unexceptional, but I hate the idea of the world without old Jiko. She's totally unique and special, like the last Galapagos tortoise or some other ancient animal hobbling around on the scorched earth, who is the only one left of its kind.
She decides her best course of action would be to commit suicide (and get it right, unlike her father's multiple failed attempts), but before she does, she wants to share her great-grandmother's story. Now old Jiko spends her days living the life of any other 104-year old: she's a nun and maintains her temple. However, before she took her vows, she was a novelist, an anarchist, an independent New Woman. She outlived her children and her son's death hit her especially hard. Haruki Yasutani #1 (Nao's father had been named after him and dubbed #2) was a brilliant student studying philosophy and reading French literature while the second World War played out around him. He was eventually drafted and quickly learned he would be a Sky Soldier - a kamikaze pilot with a guarantee to never return home alive. Despite his certain death, Haruki continued with his studies and, as Ruth and Oliver learned through his letters, he remained a gentle, peaceful man to the very end.
"I got confused," she said. "In my mind, she's still sixteen. She'll always be sixteen." Oliver sat down on the edge of the mattress and put his hand on her forehead. "The eternal now," he said. "She wanted to catch it, remember? To pin it down. That was the point." "Of writing?" "Of suicide." "I've always thought of writing as the opposite of suicide," she said. "That writing was about immortality. Defeating death, or at least forestalling it."
As Ruth and Oliver learn more and more about Nao, they begin to care deeply for her and her well-being. They anguish with each new bullying attack, become angry with her parents' blindness. Through it all, the question remains: how did that Hello Kitty lunchbox reach their shore? Oliver's theory is that it's the first in a wave of debris from the 2011 tsunami that is heading toward Canada. In the end, they never find an answer, and I like that. Normally I prefer concrete answers - no open endings for me. But A Tale for the Time Being and Nao's story can only have an open ending. What eventually became of Nao? Did she go through with her plans to commit suicide? Is she still alive? What about her father? It works and I can't imagine any other way for the story to be told (although I'm sure Oliver would kindly remind me of Schrödinger's cat and that, in fact, there are numerous other outcomes).
Print is predictable and impersonal, conveying information in a mechanical transaction with the reader's eye. Handwriting, by contrast, resists the eye, reveals its meaning slowly, and is as intimate as skin.
I usually finish a book in a day or two. With A Tale for the Time Being I wanted to keep reading, but I also wanted to spend as much time with these characters as possible. I learned so much from old Jiko, I wanted to hug Nao and take her away from the awful children in her school, I wanted to sit down and have a conversation with Haruki Yasutani #1. When I finished the book, I held it close as though by doing so I could hold on to the story inside.
Normally with dual-narratives I tend to favor one narrator over the other. That definitely was not the case with A Tale for the Time Being. I yearned for Nao's chapters just as much as I craved Ruth's and devoured every single one. Just like Ruth and Oliver, I soon found myself emotionally invested in Nao's life and - again, like Ruth and Oliver - can't picture her as anything other than a sixteen-year old girl.
Just a few chapters into the novel I started singing its praises and didn't let up for a moment - especially now that I've finished. A Tale for the Time Being is a book I've already forced upon others and will continue to do so for many, many years to come. Ruth Ozeki created a tale that's absolutely gorgeous, both inside and out (I will never get enough of that cover! Breathtakingly beautiful and velvety soft) and I feel honored to have read it. With one single story, Ms. Ozeki has earned a coveted spot on my extremely tiny Auto-Buy Authors list and rightfully so. A Tale for the Time Being is so much better than I'm able to express and I know it'll stay with me long after I move on to other books.(less)
Goodreads' Awards broke me. I have NO discipline whatsoever when it comes to the library - I can usually tel...morethis review will go live on the blog11/25
Goodreads' Awards broke me. I have NO discipline whatsoever when it comes to the library - I can usually tell ahead of time what my reading schedule looks like for the week and what reviews need to be written, so I tend to know what wiggle room I have for library books. More often than not, I grab ALL THE BOOKS and wind up taking the majority back unread because I borrowed too many. When the voting was open, I basically used to nominees as my own personal recommendations: there were so many wonderful books I had missed out on this year! I immediately requested a handful from my library and The House Girl was at the top of my stack.
Have you ever come across a book that felt as though the author wrote it with you in mind? That this book was written for you? The House Girl was that book for me. It featured so many of my favorite things in novels: dual narratives, different eras, ART!
Alternating between the present day (2004) and the 1850s, The House Girl tells the tale of Josephine Bell, a slave whose artwork had been credited to her mistress, Lu Anne Bell. Lina Sparrow is a young lawyer hoping to work her way up through the ranks. Long hours and a good track record have won her the approval of her boss, but she's looking for that one case that'll make her career. That case comes in the form of a lawsuits seeking reparations for descendants of slaves. Lina's tasked with finding the 'perfect plaintiff,' one person who will able to represent the millions.
As she's working the case, her research brings her to Josephine's story and she soon finds herself immersed in this young woman's life - and the night she made the decision to run.
I absolutely loved The House Girl. While reading I couldn't help but compare it to two other books I equally adored: The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes (while the stories were different, both books dealt with dual narratives/timelines and art) and The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro (for the art obvs). Both books rank among my favorites - The Art Forger was one of my top reads of 2012! - and have been recommended multiple times over. I can easily see The House Girl following suit. Already I've told numerous people about it and can't wait for more people to read this wonderful book.
While I am a huge fan of dual narratives, I tend to prefer one storyline over the other and that holds true with The House Girl. I was so caught up in Josephine's story that I found myself quickly reading Lina's chapters in order to get back to the 1800s. That's not to say Lina was any less interesting! I enjoyed her story, but I never found myself as invested in her relationship with her father/dealing with her mother's absence as I was in Josephine's life. My favorite parts of Lina's chapters were the scenes that dealt with the case - and therefore, Josephine.
The insight into Josephine's world: her ache for freedom, the whippings that were just another part of life, the realization that her son was alive, were heartbreaking and I couldn't tear myself away. The House Girl is a dangerous book in that I could only read it at home when I was able to devote large blocks of time to reading. This definitely is not the type of novel that can be read in small doses, a chapter here and there. The moment I finished one chapter I needed to keep reading.
The ending played out different than I had hoped - particularly Lina's story - but it didn't detract from the rest of the novel. Don't be surprised if The House Girl makes an appearance on my Top Reads of 2013 list!(less)
They said it when they were wishing for crops not to fail and storms to pass, but she realized now she'd heard her mother say it when something happened to scare her, as if to reassure herself: The Lynburns are gone.
Kami Glass has lived in the tiny English village of Sorry-in-the-Vale her entire life and has grown up hearing tales of the Lynburns. One family loomed over the town, creating laws - and enforcing them. Though Aurimere Manor now stands silent and empty on the hill, the family's presence can still be felt and the family is just as feared.
Apart from hearing these stories since childhood, Kami has also heard a voice. A boy's voice. Jared has been her imaginary friend for as long as she can recall and she still continues to speak to him even though she's well past the age where having an imaginary friend is acceptable.
Her world turns upside-down the day the Lynburns return. Regal Lillian Lynburn is the heir to the legacy and she's brought her family with her: her husband Rob and son Ash, and her sister Rosalind and Rosalind's son Jared. Suddenly Kami isn't so sure her imaginary friend is only in her head.
Sorry-in-the-Vale's records date back to the 1400s. Six hundred years do not go by without someone doing something nefarious.
I couldn't wait to jump right in and adore Unspoken. Everyone seems to be obsessing over it and it definitely has all the makings of a book I'd love: ancient family, dark secrets, a quiet town.
I tore through the first half of this book. I loved everything about it! The premise was phenomenal, the writing is stunning, the local legends gave me chills, and the characters - with the exception of Angela - were wonderfully done. Even the backstory was done in a way that didn't feel like a massive infodump.
Jared's appearance came as no surprise, though I still have no idea what his issue was with touching. Even when he was protecting Kami he would barely touch her and his avoidance of contact was never explained. That said, save for a few minor problems, Kami & Jared's dynamic was great. It was an interesting, new take on the genre and I ate it up.
"Put the jerk in the south wing, you won't see him for weeks at a time. Or lock him in the attic. The law will not be on your side, but literary precedent will."
A lot of reviews have mentioned the humor in Unspoken and while I enjoyed it, I felt it could have been toned down a lot. Particularly Kami's father. I liked his character, but did he ever say anything that wasn't a witty one-liner? Even when he walked into Kami's bedroom one morning and found both Kami and Jared asleep in bed, the only thing he had to say was some wisecrack.
Unfortunately, around the halfway mark, Unspoken really started to lose steam. Oddly enough this was right around the time when Things Started Happening. A classmate was murdered (and was never really brought up again), and the secret of the Lynburns' is finally revealed. All of this should have kept me on the edge of me seat. Although I still plowed though, I definitely did not do so with the same fervor I had in the beginning.
The other families say, 'My way or the highway.' The Lynburns said, "I am unfamiliar with the concept of the highway, so that leaves you with only one choice.'
So much was happening by the end: the will-they-or-won't-they angle, a huge fight scene, Kami's life-altering decision, Angela's secret. Everything was happening so fast and the sudden stop at the end - and I do mean sudden (that was so NOT a cliffhanger, that was right in the middle of the scene!) - that it got to be a little jarring. There were so many questions left unanswered, particularly in regards to Kami and Jared, that I feel a little cheated. I want that sense of closure. Yes, there's another book coming out, but even in a series novels should wrap up nicely enough that reads aren't left in a state of confusion and frustration.
I hate that I'm in the minority with this one, guys. I really, really do. I loved the idea for Unspoken and the beginning was FANTASTIC. I'll be reading the next book when it comes out, but I don't think I'll be giving in to the hype next time.(less)
Prince Charming has no idea how to use a sword; Prince Charming has no patience for dwarfs; Prince Charming has an irrational hatred of capes.
Every once in a while you'll come across a book so magical, so wonderful that you think about it long after you've reached the end. The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is that book. Part of me wants to end the review here and now and force all of you to go out and buy a copy. It was that good.
The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom tells the real story of the Princes Charming - yes, the Prince Charming we all know and love wasn't one guy. In fact, it turns out there were four. And their names definitely weren't Charming. Nope. Frederic, Duncan, Liam, and Gustav saved the day and got the girl only to have their identities forgotten.
Cinderella's Charming, Prince Frederic, isn't your typical hero. He would much rather have a nice picnic or look at art than face down hoards of monsters (it would ruin his clothes!). Prince Liam plays the hero to a fault. Unfortunately, his kingdom only praises him because his parents arranged a marriage with Sleeping Beauty and her kingdom is beyond rich. Snow White grew a little tired of Prince Duncan's...quirks. Any animal he sees he decides to name (dwarfs included - Flik, Frak, and Frank - and dubbed his horse Papa Scoots) and is convinced he has magical powers. Lastly, Prince Gustav. He set out to rescue Rapunzel from her tower only to meet a particularly nasty witch and his sixteen older brothers have yet to let him live it down.
"Oh, give me a break," Liam yelled, and stomped his foot in anger. "Why is there a dragon here? Nobody mentioned a dragon!"
When word gets out that the kingdoms' bards have been kidnapped, the princes decide that now is their chance to prove they really are heroes (and, you know, the bards will be so overjoyed they'll write new songs that make the princes look MUCH better). If only it were that simple. Along the way they have to face goblins, trolls, the Bandit King (who is actually only 10, so oh so very terrible), a very well-spoken giant, and even a dragon.
I could seriously go on and on about this book. At 430+ pages, it's definitely a meaty book - especially for MG! - but it could have been 1,000 pages and I would have loved every second. The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom had absolutely everything I wanted in a book - including pictures and a map! Christopher Healy is now on my autobuy list. Do yourself a favor and pick this book up. You'll be happy you did.(less)