Upon finishing Wolf in White Van, I spent a good hour reading reviews - what were they seeing that I couldn't? That was back in August. Now, weeks lat...moreUpon finishing Wolf in White Van, I spent a good hour reading reviews - what were they seeing that I couldn't? That was back in August. Now, weeks later, I've gone back and looked at those reviews again, the glowing praise, the life-changing commentary. Still I'm not getting it and that more than anything is what frustrates me. Even when I don't like a book I can still see the other side, understand just what its fans find so appealing. That's not the case here. Wolf in White Van is barely over 200 pages that still managed to take a few days to read. I hate to say it, but I think I'll be sticking with Darnielle's songs, rather than any upcoming novels. I will say though, that the cover is simply stunning. The title is a metallic foil and when the sun hits it just so...gorgeous.
From Amish communities to sleeping with professors to a fiance stranded in Spain, The Theory of Light and Matter took me on a journey. A young boy dea...moreFrom Amish communities to sleeping with professors to a fiance stranded in Spain, The Theory of Light and Matter took me on a journey. A young boy dead after falling into a sinkhole and survivor’s guilt. A childless couple hoping to fill a void by opening their home to an exchange student. A son walking in on his mother’s forbidden affair. While I couldn’t exactly relate to many of these characters, I found them all fascinating. The Theory of Light and Matter is a thrilling display of talent and I’m overjoyed that I decided to take a chance on it! Looking to get lost for an hour or two? This is the perfect escape.
If you're into creepy settings (This silence here was somewhat heavier, lonelier than the preceding one. The former was an elevator silence; this one...moreIf you're into creepy settings (This silence here was somewhat heavier, lonelier than the preceding one. The former was an elevator silence; this one was a walking-through-the-woods-by-night silence.), rooms that lead to nowhere, secret pasts, awesome characters, quirky formats, The X-Files, and historical fiction (the novel takes place in the 90s, but were it not for a few specific references to television shows, I could have easily believed this took place far, far earlier), this is the book for you. From what I can tell, this is Cantero's debut in English. If the rest of his books are this fun, I'll keep my fingers crossed for translations!
As a beach/summer read, The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane is perfect. If I had read it at any other time,...morethis review will go live on the blog7/3
As a beach/summer read, The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane is perfect. If I had read it at any other time, however, I would have been less than impressed (and actually felt a bit disappointed I hadn't enjoyed it more while reading). This book reads like a check list of beach read staples: heartbroken main character, wise/quirky grandmotherly figure, handsome strangers (in this case, two), a passion for cooking/baking, etc etc. Really, all that was missing was a loyal dog.
Janey's fiance passed away unexpectedly five years ago and with his death her world shattered. While she had always been shy, Ned's death took her fear and turned it into a debilitating phobia. She was no longer able to pursue the teaching degree she had so desperately wanted and, instead, became holed up inside her apartment, only speaking to her Aunt Midge. She can barely hold down a job and any interaction with someone new causes Janey to break out into hives. Unbeknownst to Janey, Aunt Midge enters her into a nationwide dream home contest - and her name, Janine Brown, is chosen.
Nean's 24 years have not been kind to her. In and out of foster care and shelters, she's well on her way to following in her mother's footsteps (minus the heroin). She goes for the wrong guys, but at least those guys have a place to live, some food, and a television. Geoff isn't boyfriend material, as her bald patches and bruises show, and the night she hears her name, Janine Brown, announced on live television, she knows her life is about to change.
The two (make that three - 88-year-old Aunt Midge is in tow) women head for Maine, and it's not until they've reached the sprawling mansion with a state-of-the-art kitchen and lake view, that they realize there's another Janine Brown. Who's the real winner? How could Janey possibly survive living with a stranger? There's no. way. Nean is going to be put back on a bus to Iowa. And who's that cute farmer?
The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane doesn't pull any punches and any reader of this kind of fiction knows how the story will end before it even begins. So, yes, as a carefree beach read, this book is perfect. Entertaining enough without asking for a lot in return. While I can certainly get behind some good brain fluff, I had a good time getting past these characters and their actions. 24-year-old Nean is bratty and stubborn. Despite being nearly 90, Aunt Midge rocks out to the Rolling Stones and enjoys swimming in her birthday suit. Janey has a passion for cooking - which I loved - and she claims she loves cooking so much, she always makes way more than one person could ever eat and throws the leftovers away once she's had her fill. I couldn't excuse this, though it made for a nice coincidence since Noah just so happens to work at the local shelter. Naturally, the moment she meets him, her 5-year phobia all but vanishes.
As far as substance goes, there wasn't a whole lot to this story, but that's exactly what you'd want in a summer-y read. Unfortunately, this one was simply decent - and wholly forgettable.(less)
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)
Everyone knows the evil Captain Hook, the villain of Neverland. What Alias Hook delivers is the tale of Jamie Benjamin Hookbridge, the eleven-year-old boy obsessed with ships. James Hookbridge, the charming young man who enjoyed women and drink and was in no hurry to settle down. The curse that cast him a devil, the boy who haunts him day and night, and his only chance at a way out.
I'm a big fan of retellings. A big fan. When I first heard about a retelling that focused on Captain Hook, the story that told his side, I couldn't contain myself. This was a story for me. Unfortunately, after an extremely strong start, I quickly found myself losing focus; Alias Hook lost its steam hardly a quarter of the way into the story.
Hook's childhood was fascinating and I loved these early alternating chapters between his life in London in the late 1600s and his hellish existence in Neverland in (what turns out to be) 1950. I'm a total sucker for a good backstory and I think it's crucial to a successful retelling. Hook's time spent with his father, his passion for the sea, even his early adulthood when he was often found in a saloon with his uppercrust pals or entertaining ladies in a seedy brothel. These windows into just who this man was made the story for me. I'll take some good old-fashioned character exploration over action scenes any day of the week.
Unfortunately, once his backstory was established and there were no longer any of those lovely looks into his previous life - his mortal life - I found it was a struggle to continue. There was a woman Hook loved, though he secretly wasn't looking forward to a life at home with a wife and children. He took to the seas and never returned. A dark curse was placed upon him, sending him to a boy's fantasy world where he would forever be tormented and challenged. Two centuries later - two centuries worth of shipmates, Lost Boys, Wendys, and Pan's antics - Hook discovers something new to Neverland: a woman.
Stella Parrish was a nurse who aided wounded soldiers in the Second World War. When that world became too unbearable, she sought the refuge of her childhood dreams and soon found herself in a place she immediately recognized from her storybooks. Naturally she doesn't believe Hook is really the Captain Hook, nor does she take Pan's word as truth; he's just a silly boy, a child. What power could he possibly wield? It's not until she witnessed firsthand just how deadly Pan's games are that she comes to realize this isn't silly, this isn't a game. For centuries Pan has acted out his heroic fantasies while Hook is predestined to lose every single time. While he is never fatally harmed (despite his longing for release from this dreadful place), his men, mere mortals, die for Lost Boys grow up to become men and Pan would never allow grown-ups to plague his world.
Stella's arrival is met with confusion - if Pan's in charge and he adamantly refuses to allow adults, just how did a grown woman appear? Hook takes her aboard his ship in an attempt to protect her and possibly gain the upper hand on Pan for once (Hook reasons that Stella made her way to Neverland without Pan's knowledge and he won't pass up any advantage he could have over the boy). Over time the two become close and, yeah, I wasn't at all surprised by the romance - anyone reading this book should not be surprised. The only woman in Neverland and the first woman Hook has seen in over two hundred years? Yeah.
There's lovely homage paid to J. M. Barrie. Although he'd long since passed by Stella's arrival, Hook remembers him as Pan's Scotch Boy. Barrie was one of the Lost Boys and when he returned to our world and grew up, a part of him retained those childhood memories. In his recollections, however, Barrie viewed Peter as a great leader, as all Lost Boys do, thus making Peter Pan beloved and renowned while Hook was demonized.
While I felt the story began to drag once James became Hook, I was never not interested. I certainly wasn't nearly as invested in the story as I had been in the beginning, leading to it taking nearly two weeks to read when I typically get through a book in two or three days. By the halfway mark I found myself skimming over the longer passages, usually those scenes where Hook was lamenting Stella's absence or discussing matters with his men. A large part of the book was slow-going and as much as I love a story that takes its time, Alias Hook didn't have enough to keep me turning the pages. Many nights I only got through a chapter - two if they were short. Although I wasn't as in love with Alias Hook as I had hoped, I like the idea behind it and I loved the look into Captain Hook's life before Neverland. His quest for redemption, for death, captivated me and the ending is open to a variety of interpretations. And, really, the cover is seriously spectacular in person. The colors are astoundingly vivid!(less)
Last year I fell head-over-heels for My Basmati Bat Mitvah, a Middle Grade novel about with a Jewish-Indian...morethis review will go live on the blog 03/27
Last year I fell head-over-heels for My Basmati Bat Mitvah, a Middle Grade novel about with a Jewish-Indian girl and how she comes to terms with her identity. Since then I have been on a huge Hindu/Indian kick and I'm pleased to say Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood didn't disappoint!
Abby Spencer grew up not knowing her father. She knew his name and that her parents met in college, but shortly after the semester ended, her dad flew back to India while he mom stayed home in Houston, fully unaware at the time that she was pregnant. Thirteen years later, Abby has finally accepted that her dad just isn't going to be a part of her life. Everything changes when she has an allergic reaction. Suddenly her missing father is all she can think about and, with her mother's help (and perseverance), Abby tracks down her dad - and she's in for a surprise! Kabir Kapur now goes by the name Naveen Kumar and he's the biggest Bollywood star in India!
Several phone calls and Skype sessions later, Abby finds herself catching a plane to Mumbai for her Thanksgiving break. She'll finally meet the dad she's never known (as well as a grandmother!) and experience the live of the rich and famous. Unfortunately, Abby has to keep her identity a secret - Naveen's first directorial premiere is in a few days and the press would be ruthless if they found out about a long-lost daughter.
This book is too cute! I devoured it in a single sitting and wanted more - a good thing! Much like Basmati, the characters in this novel felt real and were wonderfully fleshed-out. The parents were fully present, Abby's besties were wonderful friends, and the setting was remarkably vivid! So vivid in fact, that I've developed something of a Bollywood obsession!
Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood is a slim thing of a novel with a lightning fast pace. Despite my enjoyment of the book, there's not a whole lot to be said. POC characters are always a plus in my book and the craft and care that went into the characters made my heart swell. It looks like my craving for Indian literature won't be slowing down anytime soon! This was a lovely book and one definitely worth checking out.(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)
In high school there was nothing I loved reading more than sci-fi and fantasy. I loved getting swept away in magical worlds and strange new galaxies with totally new lifeforms. Since then, however, I've tested out other genres and wound up falling head-over-heels. There's a part of me that will always love sci-fi though, and the moment I first heard about Lockstep I knew it was something I needed to read. I was more than ready to revisit the genre and the only disappointment is that I'm fully aware of all the fantastic books I've been missing out on all these years!
Toby McGonigal's family was wealthy, but not as wealthy as the trillionaires who controlled the universe. The McGonigals had a respectable planetary claim on Sedna, but there was a small hiccup: to claim a planet every moon had to be visited. Toby was tasked with visiting a tiny hunk of rock further away than any others and in the course of journeying there the ship somehow flew off course.
When Toby woke he discovered he had been missing for 14,000 years. In that time the McGonigal family pioneered the Locksteps - a way of hibernating. Although many millennia had passed, in actuality only 40 years time had elapsed since Toby's family last saw him. And in that time Toby's younger siblings grew up...and proceeded to take control of the universe. An entire religion had formed around Toby's existence - and his prophesied return. This 17-year-old boy is the Emperor of Time and heir to an entire empire. What's worse: now that his siblings know he's alive they want him dead.
To cut to the chase, Lockstep was phenomenal! I was hooked from the very first page and loved every minute I spent in this strange new way of living. The people within the Lockstep 'winter over' - use special beds to freeze and hibernate - for thirty years at a time and then wake for a month before wintering over once more. Their entire existence relies on this method; trade has been expanded tenfold now that you can get there in what feels like overnight. However, it's also used as a form of punishment. Certain cities and planets are subject to other frequencies. They might live ten years while other planets have only seen two weeks. Entire families can be torn apart in the blink of an eye - Toby witnesses this firsthand with his own siblings. Peter and Evayne were just kids when he last saw them. Now they're in their 40s.
Let it be known that I am not a fan of math. No, sir. All these different frequencies started to gnaw on my brain and I had a difficult time wrapping my head around it - but that says more about my lackluster skills than it does about Lockstep. Another thing that confused me was how greatly technology advanced. Totally believable after 14,000 years, but 40..? Not so much. Also, there are hardly any of the 'original' colonists left. After only 40 years. But, again, my inability to understand falls on me, not the book.
Toby felt entirely believable and he was simply great. The secondary characters were spot-on too, but I have to say my favorites were the denners. Denners are little cat-like creatures that can act as a cicada bed - these little guys are fully capable of wintering over their owner and it's this ability that makes them a family of stowaways, criminals, and anyone else who opposes the McGonigals' iron fist. Although the denners can't speak, with special glasses (I kept picturing Google Glass), owners can see little icons and emoticons hover above their bodies.
For as much of an emphasis as their was on Toby's death threats, the climax was a bit anti-climatic. Things Happened and it was all very sitcom-y. I was expecting a giant intergalactic battle and it never came. Despite the Happy Family ending and my NUMBERS ARE HARD mentality, I enjoyed Lockstep! A lot. I'm actually pretty bummed out that it's now over! I'm not quite sure this book will work for the everyday reader, but if you're a fan of space operas and hard sci-fi, definitely check out this book! (less)
I equate summertime with road trips. The windows down, the music up, your best friends right beside you. Is there really anything better? When I first heard about The Museum of Intangible Things I knew I needed to read it: two down-and-out girls from New Jersey leave behind their less-than-stellar lives in search of something bigger, grander. Not only did I get that, I also got a surprising amount of emotion and heartache.
Hannah and Zoe have always been there for each other. When they were children they swore they would always protect one another and each girl has made good on her promise. Zoe has no father to speak of, while Hannah's in struggling in his AA meetings. They sneak off to a nearby 'rich kid' school and hide in the attic to listen in on lessons; there's no way their school could ever afford classes like this. Hannah's only chance at a better life lies with her grades and what money she's able to make from selling hot dogs on the beach.
Zoe's younger brother suffers from a form of Asperger's where he cannot form or understand emotion. In an attempt to teach him what each emotion is, Zoe builds large displays in their basement - her Museum of Intangible Things. Each display shows - and explains - a concept: proud, sad, disappointment. Spontaneous plans aren't uncommon for Zoe and she announces a road trip, she wants to show Hannah there's more to life than following the rules and getting good grades.
Off the bat I should mention this is NOT a happy-go-lucky road trip book. Nope. Not. At. All. The Museum of Intangible Things was a wonderful, beautiful, gorgeous friendship novel (seriously, their love for each other shone through. I wasn't told they were best friends, I felt it, I saw it), but it was also a heartbreaking look at mental illness, alcoholism, and the hopelessness of being unable to help someone you love. I'm not going to lie - I teared up more than once. By the time I finally caught on to where the ending was headed I hoped I was wrong, that it wouldn't go that route. ..and when it did? It felt like a punch in the gut.
When the book wasn't breaking my heart, it was a ton of fun! At one point Zoe and Hannah sneak into an Ikea and stay overnight. While I went along with it (and secretly, I would love to do something like that!), later on in the story I had a harder time believing. Not once, but twice Zoe vanishes and twice Hannah is able to find her. No, the girls aren't lost in a mall or anything like that. Zoe took off in Las Vegas. Las Vegas. Somehow Hannah was able to find her again without too much trouble. Later in the novel Zoe flees once more - this time to the Grand Canyon - and again Hannah was able to find her far too easily.
Discussing The Museum of Intangible Things is no easy task. I want to talk about THINGS, but those things are massive spoilers. Even Events Leading Up To THINGS could potentially ruin the entire story, so I'm left with extremely vague thoughts. Sorry, guys! If you want to know more, you'll have to grab a copy of this one and find out for yourselves. Then come find me - I need to talk about this book!(less)
A few months ago I discussed imprints and I mentioned one of my go-to imprints (according to my ratings) is Viking. Steal the North is one of Viking's latest releases and, once again, proves just how well that imprint knows me.
Steal the North is not a happy story by any means. Instead it's a story of a family brought together by lies and tragedy and shows how they cope with the past and, ultimately, struggle to move on. Sixteen-year-old Emmy thought her only family was her mother. Her world shatters when she finds out that, not only is her father alive and well, but she also has an aunt and uncle living in Washington. Even more shocking is when Emmy's mother tells her she'll be spending the summer with her new-found family. Kate was just barely out of her teens when she became pregnant. Having been raised in a fundamentalist church, Kate's pregnancy cast her out of the only thing she knew. Her father disowned her, the church disowned her, the boy she planned on marrying took off. In order to support herself and Emmy, Kate did unspeakable things and, when she couldn't take it anymore, left Washington for California in order to start a new life. It's been sixteen years since she last spoke to her sister and now her family needs her help.
When Kate left, Bethany lost a huge part of herself. Her older sister was her rock and the year she was able to spend with Emmy was the happiest she'd ever been. Since she was a child Bethany's dream was to have children of her own, but she's suffered miscarriage after miscarriage and realizes she has one more chance. While Matt can't convince her to see a doctor, Bethany has started looking into alternative medicine - herbs, plants, but not to the extent that her fellow worshipers would become suspicious. The new pastor has agreed to do a healing and Bethany's niece is needed for a vital role. Next door to the Millers lives a Native American family. Life on the reservation might provide them with family, but the trailer court holds far more stability and a life away from gangs and poverty. Theresa supports her kids as best as she can and her younger brother Reuben helps out whenever she needs him. The summer Emmy spends in Washington brings together two wildly different families and she discovers what it truly means to be home.
Steal the North is beautiful. It's heartbreaking. It's emotional, raw, real. The story is set in the late '90s and, in the easiest way to get to my heart, features numerous points of view. I don't want to say Emmy is the standout character, though the story is very much about her. Bethany, Reuben, and Kate are every bit as important to the story and each chapter shows a side to the story that wasn't there before. Bethany, with her homemade dresses and long hair. Kate's bitterness and regret. Reuben's desire to hold onto his Colville traditions. I was pleasantly surprised that even minor characters were given a chapter or two: Jamie, Emmy's father, isn't quite the deadbeat he's originally made out to be. Spencer, Kate's boyfriend, loves her and Emmy more than anything and is determined to become a family. Every single character, big or small, was beautifully written and felt like people I could easily pass on the street or stand behind in line at the grocery store.
Be warned, though: this isn't a lazy day read. It's not a novel to be devoured in an afternoon. I spent well over a week with this book and I feel that truly helped me get a real feel for the place and the characters that I would have missed had I raced through it. I also feel that my slow reading pace subconsciously mirrored the slow story-telling - and I don't mean that in a bad way! Steal the North was not a novel that dragged its feet or one that bored me. Instead, it was a story that simply wasn't ready to give up its secrets; instead I had to earn them and when I finally discovered the truth it hit me hard. My heart broke a hundred times over for these characters and while my life isn't anything like theirs, by the end of the book I wanted to reach out to my family. That is the sign of good story-telling, ladies and gentlemen.
My only - only! - complaint about the novel has nothing to do with the story itself, but with the cover. Personally I find the cover stunning, but what you can't see on the screen is that, because of the camera angle, there's a clear view down the model's dress. It would have been so easy to fix: a different angle, different lighting, a different dress.
It floors me that Steal the North is Bergstrom's first novel. With a debut like this there's no telling what the future holds - but I look forward to it! Steal the North was filled to the brim with emotion: heavy subjects like loss and race were handled with grace and the love coursing through these pages hit home. This is definitely a novel I'll be talking about for a long, long time and certainly one I'll be recommending to friends, family, and customers. Pick up a copy of this novel - trust me.(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)