Wilds Cards is, unfortunately, a prime example of an intriguing plot that had a horrible execution. SouthernThis review will go live on the blog09/19
Wilds Cards is, unfortunately, a prime example of an intriguing plot that had a horrible execution. Southern boy Derek has found himself in the headmaster's office after a prank-gone-wrong. The prestigious school have given him numerous chances and this is the last straw. After fessing up and taking all of the blame, Derek's told he has 48 hours to gather his things and leave. With his dad stationed overseas and a spacey 25-year old stepmother, Derek isn't exactly looking forward to heading home. Things go from bad to worse when Brandi announces she's pregnant and until Derek's father returns, they'll all be heading to Chicago to move in with Brandi's estranged family.
As the only girl on the high school football team, Ashtyn has developed a tough skin. She had to earn the respect of the guys and now she's considered one of them. Her boyfriend is the star Quarterback and it's all but guaranteed he'll be elected Captain come their senior year. Ashtyn's sights are set a little further in the future: she's aiming for a football scholarship and the chance to play on a college team.
While things have never looked better on the field, Ashtyn's home life has seriously declined. Her mother abandoned the family years ago, her sister vanished as well, and her dad just doesn't seem to care anymore. Now her sister has returned, bun in the over, and with her son and stepson in tow. They simply arrive at the door and announce they're moving in.
Wild Cards had two things going for it: its BLINDINGLY fast pace and football. The football plot especially interested me, even moreso that it was a girl who played. YES PLEASE! Sadly, that's where the good ends. This is a book that suffers from an extreme case of telling rather than showing. We're told Derek is a bad boy, we're told Ashtyn is some super awesome fantastic football player/tough chick. I never got a feel for just who these characters really were and their relationship was downright confusing.
It seems all Derek does is paint the shed and cut the grass. I wouldn't have batted an eye if he helped a little old lady cross the street or rescue a kitten in a tree. Yep. Real troublemaker there. As far as Ashtyn's football prowess goes, she never actually plays. Or, sure, she practices, but that's it. There aren't any games - the novel takes places during summer vacation - so that angle was a complete letdown. At one point Ashtyn goes to a week-long football clinic where only the best high school players from around the country go, but even there we only read about a handful of drills (of course each one is sabotaged by boys who aren't interested in having a girl play).
I read a lot of YA and am getting into New Adult. I know how it goes and I've come to expect quick romances if not flat out instalove. What baffled me about Wild Cards is that, while the character are in love (in a weird quasi-incestuous way - she's his stepmother's sister after all), they refused to voice their feelings for nearly the entire book and they aren't in a relationship at all. The dual narrative allows the reader to know exactly how Ashtyn and Derek feel and it's very love/hate. Ashtyn thinks Derek's hot. Derek thinks Ashtyn has a great body. Ashtyn wants Derek to hold her. Derek wants Ashtyn period. Ashtyn hates how Derek is flirting with her friends and thinks he's a jerk. Derek hates how guys look at Ashtyn. This went on and on the entire book and their only interactions were arguments. Somehow this was supposed to be romantic? I just couldn't get into it.
The ending really took the cake though. (view spoiler)[After all the talk of Ashtyn being an amazing football player - and not seeing any proof - it turns out that Derek is the one who is really the star. Prior to the death of his mother he took his team all the way to the state championship and had a really promising career ahead of him. In the end it was about Derek's phenomenal skills rather than Ashtyn's. (hide spoiler)]
Wild Cards was such a disappointment. I went in fully prepared to love every moment, but nothing worked for me. The characters were flat, the football plot just wasn't there, and the romance was borderline aggravating. This is the first in a series, but I'm tapping out of this one. I have no interest in seeing what's in store for these characters. If it wasn't for the easy-to-read pace, I doubt I would have finished.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
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 latUpon 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.
You know those books you hear about that sound AMAZING, those books you cannot wait to get your hands on and cthis review will go live on the blog6/5
You know those books you hear about that sound AMAZING, those books you cannot wait to get your hands on and cherish, only to be horribly let down? Allow me to introduce you to Goodnight June. Let's revisit that summary: June Andersen is the vice president of a very lucrative bank in New York where she oversees foreclosures, even personally shutting down beloved businesses. She's carved out a new life for herself on the East Coast and never planned on returning to her past in Seattle until the day she received a letter; her great-aunt Ruby passed away and everything was left for June. Including Bluebird Books, the children's bookstore Ruby owned for decades. As much as June loved Ruby, returning home would mean facing things she's just not ready for. When she uncovers a secret Ruby kept hidden - her friendship with Margaret Wise Brown and the true story of how Goodnight Moon came to be - June finds herself enchanted. Could she possibly learn to let go and move on?
Goodnight June sounded positively dreamy: a bookstore, an absolute classic work of children's literature (raise your hand if you had - or still have! - a copy of Goodnight Moon), and a treasure hunt! Nothing better, right? Sadly, this novel fell victim to the Matthew Pearl Effect (new friends to the blog, the MPE is where a story has an incredible premise, but the actual storytelling falls short - named after one-too-many disappointments following Matthew Pearl's works). Goodnight June sounded great, but the execution was anything but.
There were so many issues I had with this novel, it would be easier to discuss what I did like. The idea behind the story? Ruby and Margaret's friendship? And that's where my praise ends.
June, a painfully stubborn and immature woman, falls for a cute new guy and after two short weeks they're in love. The problem? Gavin is co-owner of a restaurant with his ex-fiancee. The ex-fiancee who's still in love with him. This doesn't matter to June though, because mere days after meeting Gavin, she suggests they team up, knock down a wall between their buildings, and combine the two businesses into a bookstore/cafe. ...and Gavin agrees. Uh.. Then there's the problem with the bookstore. The entire reason June left for Seattle was to settle her aunt's finances and sell the place. Ruby had amassed an overwhelming amount of debt and even if she were to sell her apartment and use her entire savings, June still wouldn't have enough to cover the cost. So what brilliant plan does Gavin come up with? Why not e-mail her boss to ask for money! And June does. She e-mailed her boss JUST ONE DAY AFTER QUITTING to ask him to help her pay the money Ruby owed.
Honestly I'm surprised my eyes are still in my head they were doing so much rolling. Any obstacle or conflict that arose in the story was swiftly dealt with. There was nothing for June to work for. At one point she's trying to locate a man who had been given up for adoption in the 70s. It was a closed adoption and she only had the name he was given at birth. Well what do you know, June does a Google search, comes across a website for adults who had been adopted, and types up a post on their message boards. The following day she receives a reply. The entire book was like this. June's money problems? She holds a grand reopening (I was ROLLING at the scene where Bill and Melinda Gates randomly showed up along with big name authors like Clive Cussler) and gets a ton of donations. I get that this is supposed to be the Happy Ending, but I never saw it as a reward. June never had to struggle or put in any effort to reach her goals.
My other big issue was with the actual writing. If this is what Jio's work is like after six books (with a seventh coming out later this year) I'd seriously hate to see what her debut was like:
We pretend to be angry at each other for about three seconds before we hug. "I'm going to miss you," he says. "I'm going to miss you too."
We sit at a corner table and talk and laugh over Americanos and blackberry scones, then continue our tour of Winslow, stopping at a wine store. Gavin buys a case of local cabernet for the restaurant, and an extra one for me. When I notice a bookstore, Eagle Harbor Books, across the street, we walk there next.
I study the letter carefully and see that Margaret must have heeded Ruby's advice, because the letter has obviously been folded many times. Its creases are very deep and worn, as if she might have done just what Ruby suggessted. 'I hope you'll take what I've just written and put it in your pocket and save it.' She must have done just that.
Of course, I should point out these are from an uncorrected copy. Her editor is definitely earning her paycheck with this one. Overly simple sentences - they went here, then they went here, then they looked at this - and an absurd amount of repetition (you think Margaret took the advice??). No thank you.
It's such a shame that I truly have nothing good to say about Goodnight June but I certainly can see the appeal in Jio's works; Goodnight Moon was an extremely easy, very quick read with an abundance of fluff. Unfortunately, I wanted more from this book than I received....more
Between that beautiful cover and - hello - SHANNON HALE, Dangerous was one of my most anticipated releases of 201this review goes live on the blog3/4
Between that beautiful cover and - hello - SHANNON HALE, Dangerous was one of my most anticipated releases of 2014. Unfortunately I could only make it 147 pages in before throwing up a white flag and quitting. How is this from the same author of Princess Academy and The Goose Girl?? The only explanation I can come up with is that Hale has five books coming out this year. F-I-V-E. Clearly that had something to do with the lack of quality of Dangerous; this is not the Shannon Hale I know and love.
Maisie Danger Brown (yes, that's her real name) enters a sweepstakes on a cereal box for astronaut camp. Much to her surprise she wins and it's there the story goes downhill. Within 20 pages we have already met the two love interests (and she's already made out with one of them!). Had I known Dangerous was going to be a romance I wouldn't have bothered. Maisie's dream is to become an astronaut, yet once she meets Wilder, she can only think about him, her dream totally forgotten. Jonathan Ingalls Wilder (yes, that's his real name) is awful. He's dripping with wealth and despite his groupies that follow him everywhere, Maisie has somehow caught his eye. Get a load of this charmer:
"A home-schooled, black-eyed Latina." He whistled. "You are turning into a very ripe fruit for the plucking."
This comes from their first conversation. Wilder flip-flops with his feelings: he can't get enough of Maisie, yet any time she proves to be smarter than him, he immediately turns cold and starts chatting up another girl. What a guy.
The camp is run by a brilliant scientist I couldn't stand. I think she was supposed to be an aloof, head-in-the-clouds kind of scientist, but instead, she spends all of her time juggling. The greatest mind of our time, folks. She managed to build the Beanstalk, basically an elevator from Earth to an asteroid. Five campers are chosen to make the trip - Maisie, Wilder, Smart Asian Girl Who Likes Slushies, Beautiful-But-Mean Redhead, and French-African Boy Whose Cursing Is Bleeped (yep. bleeped.). While in space these five kids get to see alien artifacts and wind up absorbing their powers. Now instead of being human caricatures, they're human caricatures with super powers. Redhead turns into a Juggernaut-esque behemoth and can't stop eating. Slushie Girl can shoot things from her palms. Maisie discovers an ability to understand technology and build. The first thing she builds? A robot arm, thus rendering her disability (she only had one arm) completely pointless. Why bother having a disabled character if you're going to give her a special robot arm?
Things Happen (a fight breaks out and characters die) and the kids are on the run. Once Maisie's back home I lost any interest in Dangerous and judging from the reviews I've read, I didn't miss much by not finishing. Dangerous was SUCH a disappointment. Every single character was a personality trait rather than a person. Maisie's best friend Luther exists for the sole purpose of being another love interest. In his first scene Maisie comments on "how muscley" he's become - 7 pages into the book. There's a page-long joke that goes nowhere. All of the other campers virtually vanish once these five gain their powers.
Although the camp is for anyone 12-17, the writing felt more like a beginner's chapter book. Very short and simple sentences and any kind of explanation regarding space or technology is glossed over. Also, I'm still unclear as to when this novel takes place. At first I assumed the present day, but now I'm wondering if maybe it's set in the future? The characters discuss the Rolling Stones and the Beatles though so I'm not entirely sure.
If Shannon Hale's novels hold any kind of nostalgic feelings for you, do yourself a favor and avoid this one.
We were quiet, two tiny specks glued down by gravity, peering at a universe that didn't notice us back. The quiet and dark made me feel mysterious and stilled, a thing that glints in the dark, an object that can only be understood by careful study. Something like a poem.
I Am Pilgrim is a sweeping 700-page behemoth of a novel that spans multiple decades and continents and I couthis review will go live on the blog05/27
I Am Pilgrim is a sweeping 700-page behemoth of a novel that spans multiple decades and continents and I could have easily read another 700 pages. I'm typically hesitant to give in to hype, I've been burned in the past, but with this novel, the hype is not only deserved, but actually doesn't do the book justice. I Am Pilgrim is greater than the hype. It's the kind of book that rocked me to my core and left me breathless. It took me over a month to finally come up with a review but even after a month's thought, nothing I say will be good enough. This book is that good.
I'm purposefully leaving the summary vague; uncovering the details is half the fun! What initially starts out as a routine - albeit rather gruesome - murder investigation in a seedy New York hotel quickly spirals into a whirlwind race across Europe and the Middle East to stop a crazed zealot from raining destruction down on America. Throw in some ultra-secret government divisions, biological warfare, and a main character with severe mommy issues, and you've got the backbone of I Am Pilgrim.
It's never fully revealed just who our main character is. He was adopted as a child and later on recruited for an agency where he was given a new name and a new past. With each case he took on a new identity. He's a ghost, living on the fringes of society, never getting close to anyone. After he left the agency, he wrote a book detailing various crimes and unique methods of killing. He becomes involved in the murder investigation after it becomes clear the killer used his book as a blueprint, a checklist of what not to do and how to get away with it. From there I Am Pilgrim takes on a life of its own and I happily buckled in for the ride.
This is a novel where there's So. Much. to say but saying it will give away the book's secrets and I refused to ruin it for anyone! I Am Pilgrim is definitely not for the queasy and makes that clear with the opening scene. Thankfully I'm the kind of person who can't resist watching horror unfold and was thoroughly ensnared in this book's web. I'm convinced Hayes is something of a genius - the way he introduced multiple stories that, on first look, appeared completely unrelated only to have everything come together at the end had me in awe. It takes a special kind of author to turn a book of this length into a frenzied page-turner, and Hayes is clearly a master of his craft.
I Am Pilgrim kept me up late, got me up early, and had me sneaking in some reading time whenever I could throughout the day. When I wasn't reading this book I was thinking about it and counting down the minutes until I was able to get back to it. I realize this review is little more than me rephrasing "I LOVE THIS BOOK" over and over again, but when it comes down to it, that's all I can say (without spoiling anything, of course). I Am Pilgrim is a highly ambition novel that fully lives up to those ambitions and I'm counting on it becoming a huge hit this summer. It appears this is going to be a series, and if that's truly the case, I desperately need the next!...more
Newcomers to Carter's work take note: this is not an author who's afraid to tackle heavy subjects. Last yearthis review will go live on the blog06/03
Newcomers to Carter's work take note: this is not an author who's afraid to tackle heavy subjects. Last year's Me, Him, Them, & It focused on pregnancy and now her latest, My Best Friend, Maybe sheds light on sexuality and what happens to a friendship when it's called into question.
Until three years ago Colette and Sadie were best friends and virtually inseparable. Then everything changed just before high school. Suddenly Sadie went out of her way to avoid Colette and, while the two could have talked non-stop for hours just a few years before, any chance encounters in the school halls are now met with awkward and forced hellos. For Colette this sudden change in Sadie is met with confusion and hurt - what did Colette do? Was there something Colette didn't do that made Sadie all but abandon their friendship? What - if anything - can be done to fix things?
The hole left by Sadie has been hastily patched over with a church youth group and a new boyfriend, Mark - a boy Colette's parents heartily approve of; Sadie's free-spirited mother and laid back attitude toward rules never failed to raise an eyebrow. Colette's relationship with Mark is practically perfect: he always treats her like a princess, showers her with gifts, and never goes further than the chastest of kisses. With a youth group trip quickly approaching, Sadie presents an invitation that changes everything. Colette must choose between spending the summer with Mark on a retreat or visiting the Greek Islands with her ex-best friend - and possibly find some answers.
Slowly but surely GLBT themes are emerging in Young Adult literature and I welcome it with open arms. Sadly, all too often a character's sexuality is glossed over or revealed for little more than shock value and adds absolutely nothing to the story. Even worse is the sitcom-style ending: everything is wrapped up nicely in a pretty bow and any bullying/harsh remarks/bigotry is forgiven and forgotten. While My Best Friend, Maybe left me wanting more, the portrayal of the characters was wonderful and heartbreaking.
My Best Friend, Maybe is told through Colette's perspective and until the ending we only know her side of the story as to what happened the night her friendship with Sadie fell apart. What Carter did extremely well was keep me guessing. The back cover of my ARC states: "A beautiful and multi-layered story of friendship, romance, and sexuality..." and, naturally, I expected these would all come into play between two characters. Carter caught me off guard though and I really enjoyed that. Yes, there's friendship, romance, and sexuality, but the storylines aren't one and the same.
Over time the reader discovers more of Sadie's side of the story as well as her reasoning for inviting Colette along. While I was rooting for Sadie the entire time, her motives gave me pause. Colette's Bible-thumping mother also plays a large role and her actions were appalling and gut-wrenching. Although I finished the book in a single sitting (something I rarely do) I had to walk away more than once because of Colette's mother. It certainly says something about Carter's abilities as a writer that she was able to stir up such emotion in me.
Even though I felt the ending was a bit too sweet and sitcom-y, I devoured it in a handful of hours. The day I received My Best Friend, Maybe in the mail I immediately sat down to read it and didn't stop until I was finished. Caela Carter made a name for herself with her debut and her sophomore effort proves she's not a one-hit wonder. My Best Friend, Maybe is an absolute joy of a novel and definitely one to pick up! ...more
I don't want to jinx myself, but I've been having insanely good luck lately with Young Adult Thrillers. Before I begReview goes live on the blog9/20!
I don't want to jinx myself, but I've been having insanely good luck lately with Young Adult Thrillers. Before I began blogging, thrillers were my go-to reads, but I never thought to try them in a YA flavor.
Wick Tate doesn't have a whole lot going for her: her felon father is on the run, cops are trying to squeeze information out of her, she's on her fourth set of foster parents, and her best friend acts like Wick no longer exists. The two bright sides to Wick's life are her little sister Lily and her hacking business - women hire her to get the dirt on their cheating boyfriends/husbands.
The morning following a detective's usual late-night stakeout, Wick finds a diary on the doorstep. Flipping through she recognizes the handwriting of her former best friend, Tessa. Scrawled on the cover however, are the words find me. That day at school Wick learns Tessa died - jumped off a building - and Wick refuses to believe the story ends there. The diary entries talk of more: a man Tessa was seeing, someone who learns Wick picked up his scent and now he's after her.
YA Thrillers might just be my new favorite thing. Find Me captivated me from the very first page and didn't let go until well after I finished. There's a sense of foreboding throughout the novel that I found riveting and more than once my breath caught and I lost myself to the scene. When I read thrillers or mysteries, I like to guess at Who Did It and I tend to be right. The same can be said for Find Me, but the way the mystery was revealed was so expertly done that I didn't mind one bit! I had actually been hoping for a different character to be the killer and was disappointed I was wrong, but the truth came out and when it did I immediately changed my tune; the bad guy was truly awful and I began to panic and had to set the book down. Having your reader experience such intense emotions takes some serious talent and Ms. Bernard let hers shine.
As per YA there's a romance involved, but what sets Find Me apart is that there was NOT a love triangle nor was this a case of instalove. Their relationship blossomed over time and it was such a welcome sight. Even better: the romance didn't take center stage. In the hands of a lesser author, this book about a killer-going-after-the-younger-sister could easily have turned into a starcrossed romance with a hint of an actual plot. No so here!
That this is Ms. Bernard's debut novel both impresses and excites me! Find Me enveloped me in its mystery - Who was this man Tessa was seeing? Will he get to Wick's sister? - and its hold refused to give. I highly recommend this book and you can bet I'll be waiting to see what Romily Bernard writes next!...more
She would adore her child and tend her husband, but love, that elusive prize, had left her now. What a horror it was to be mortal, she thought, subject to such appalling weaknesses and needs. What a horror it was to be alive.
These are the reviews that are the hardest to write. If I had felt strongly about this book - on either end of the spectrum - I would have no problem putting my thoughts down. As it were, however, I Always Loved You was a novel that more often than not dragged, with the good parts being simply satisfactory. I follow GoodReads's rating system, and according to them, a two star rating means a book was merely okay. And, when it comes down to it, that's all this novel was. Okay. Passable. Decent. Ultimately forgettable. It was an effort on my part to finish (I spent nearly two weeks reading it!) and while there were intriguing chapters, at no point did I feel that calling to rush home from work/grocery shopping/what have you to jump back into the story.
I Always Loved You follows Mary Cassatt from her early days as a young American painter in Paris to old age. Along the way we're introduced to numerous artists - Renoir, Monet, both Manet brothers - nearly all of whom have banded together to hold their own exhibitions after having paintings rejected by the famed Paris Salon. After an introduction to Degas (she had long admired his work and he had admired hers), she finds herself tangled in this misfit group. Reading about these painters was like watching a soap opera. Though many were married, their affections lay elsewhere and even the paternity of a child was called into question (though never in public of course!). With Mary spending more and more time with Degas rumors run rampant throughout Paris and neither really does anything to stop it.
Mary spends her days painting or caring for her ailing sister once her family makes the move from Philadelphia to Paris. On occasion Degas stops by the have dinner or present Mrs. Cassatt and Mary's sister Lydia with gifts. Out of the blue, however, he'll disappear and Mary won't hear a word from him for a month or longer. Despite his gusto when it comes to taking on new projects, Degas always manages to leave the others hanging - multiple exhibitions are held only for the other artists to discover at the last minute, that Degas hadn't painted a single piece. Years of productivity went down the drain after he abandoned a journal start up that many people - including Mary - had devoted time and money to.
While the book was largely devoted to Mary and Degas, there were multiple chapters that followed other artists and, honestly, I wound up getting many of them confused. Was it Édouard who was married to Suzanne yet in love with Berthe or was it his brother Eugène? Who was it again that had been rejected by the Salon this year? The year before? I got lost in the small details that made up I Always Loved You and the confusion made it difficult to become fully invested in the story.
I also had a hard time coming to care to Edgar and Mary's relationship - if you choose to call it that. For decades these two were friends one day, had epically heated arguments the next, ignored one another for months, then rekindled their friendship. Rinse, repeat. They were in love with one another yet never admitted to their feelings. They were stubborn and bitter to the end and each died alone. The passionate romance I had been promised just wasn't there. At one point Edgar carelessly blurted out a marriage proposal, to which Mary slammed the door in his face. I'm convinced there's no way these two would have been able to tolerate a life together.
It's such a shame that this novel was so disappointing. Despite my utter ignorance when it comes to the art world, I do love a good novel exploring it and have read many fantastic books on the subject. Add in the historical aspect plus Parisian setting and I Always Loved You was shaping up to be a book handcrafted for me. Unfortunately that wasn't the case. Slow chapters (entire chapters comprised of only a single multi-page paragraph!), a large jumble of characters, and a frustrating romance led to me having a rather hard time getting through this book. Although I wasn't the biggest fan of this one, I've heard wonderful things about Oliveira's debut, My Name is Mary Sutter, and look forward to giving that novel a try....more
2012 is the year of retellings and until now, I can't think of any other retelling of Hansel and Gretel. The moment I heard about this book, I desperately needed to read it. Luckily I was provided with an ARC (thank you, thank you, thank you!!!) and were it not for work - and, trust me, I was seriously tempted to call off - I would have finished The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy in one sitting.
Lorelei Robinson is an eleven year old girl harboring a terrible secret. Since the death of her mother a year earlier, she's felt alone and ignored by her older brother and father. And her new stepmother Molly is an absolute terror.
When her school burns down, there's talk of where to send the now-schooless children. Over the weekend a new school suddenly is built and the only one who seems to notice just how quickly it appeared is Lorelei. Despite the costs of a private school, Lorelei's father agrees to check it out (much to the dismay of Molly; she'd much rather spend that money on herself).
Splendid Academy is unlike any other school. Not only does it have a pretty fantastic playground, but there are hardly any rules and it's nearly impossible to get in trouble. Students are free to wander the halls or leave their classroom if a particular lesson doesn't interest them. There are bowls of candy on every desk. Multiple recesses a day. Feel like playing with your phone instead of learning math? Go right ahead!
Even with these unbelievable perks, Splendid Academy's claim to fame is the food. Oh, that food. Students are encouraged to eat as much as they'd like and upon touring the school, they were asked about their favorite foods. In many cases, students eat better at school than they do at home.
The only one who seems to suspect something strange is going on is Andrew, a boy in Lorelei's class. Andrew is overweight and over the summer his mother had sent him off to camp. It was there he learned about controlling his eating and how to avoid cravings. While all the other students are stuffing their faces with plate after plate of food, Andrew is able to fight the temptation - and winds up dealing with the repercussions of going against the plans the school has for him.
Without giving too much away - although, given this book is a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, what do you think will happen? - The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy is a dark, delightful tale. I tore through this book, not just because of the quick pace, but because it was seriously that good. This book is described as Hansel and Gretel meets Coraline and that alone should send readers running to preorder it.
The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy is the reason I love Middle Grade. :)...more
Ugly Girls lays everything out in the open from the very beginning. There's no glossing over or pretty little bows. Instead, this is a story with a stUgly Girls lays everything out in the open from the very beginning. There's no glossing over or pretty little bows. Instead, this is a story with a stark portrayal of two unhappy and bitter girls. There's no one to root for, no team to cheer on. At times overwhelming, and without a doubt tough, Ugly Girls held me captive. Despite the gritty feeling I had when it was over I enjoyed this one immensely and I do recommend it - though have a sappy love story on deck. Trust me, you're going to need kitten videos by the time Ugly Girls is through with you.
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....more
BEWARE: this review amounts to little more than an incoherent, rambly love letter.
You know that one review tThis review will go live on the blog10/14
BEWARE: this review amounts to little more than an incoherent, rambly love letter.
You know that one review that you sit on until you come up with the right words to say, only to wind up writing - and rewriting - the entire thing? That's how I was with My Basmati Bat Mitzvah. This is the novel I want to hand to Middle Grade/Young Adult naysayers who claim kids' books can't be thought-provoking and powerful. Even now I want to scrap this review and simply have a giant 72-pt blinking font that just reads "GO BUY THIS NOW."
Tara Feinstein is just like every other 12-year-old: she loves having Movie Nights with her best friend Ben-o (who just might like-like her), she has to deal with all the hurt and jealousy that comes with her other best friend Rebecca becoming friendly with Tara's sworn enemy, and the best thing about the new school year is getting to be in robotics class.
Unlike the majority of the kids in Tara's class however, Tara comes from a multi-cultural home. While both her parents are Jewish, her mother practiced Hinduism before converting. Apart from Tara's aunt and cousin, the rest of her mother's side of the family still lives in India. Even though she attends Hebrew School, Tara strongly identifies with her Indian side and a classmate's nasty comments raise some doubts about whether or not she wants to go through with her Bat Mitzvah. Will she have to abandon her Indian heritage in order to truly be Jewish?
When I first started reading this book I sat down on my couch and didn't move until I had finished. My Basmati Bat Mitzvah is such an incredibly lovely book that had it all: diverse characters (!!!), humor, a beautiful message. Tara came across as a real person, someone I could pass on the street. Her jealousy over playing third wheel to her bestie's new friend, panic over accidentally ruining a precious heirloom, all the confusion that comes with her best boy friend kinda-sorta-maybe wanting to be a boyfriend. It was all beautifully done. Tara had such wonderful character development throughout the novel - and she wasn't the only one! Other characters had an amazing amount of depth, particularly Mean Girl Sheila. & get this: not only were Tara's parents ever-present, but her grandmother, aunt, and even her friends' parents played key roles!
Perhaps what really won me over was that I could relate to Tara. I come from a Jewish-Catholic family and while I was raised Catholic, my family still observes certain Jewish traditions and holidays. I understood Tara's conflicting emotions. If she had her Bat Mitzvah, would she have to forget all about her beloved grandparents, her Nana and Nanaji? Would she be unable to enjoy her favorite Bollywood movies? Tara's personal journey to discovering herself was beautiful and I was cheering her on every step of the way. And if I didn't already love her to pieces, the fact that she wanted to wear a sari and serve traditional Indian food at her Bat Mitzvah totally would have won me over.
As an added bonus, at the very end of the book there's a multi-page glossary that covers a variety of Yiddish/Hebrew/Punjabi terms and of course I thought that was awesome! Seriously, I could prattle on about My Basmati Bat Mitzvah for days. It was a delightful, beautiful story about a girl discovering who she is and I loved it. I strongly recommend buying a copy!...more
Let's take another look at that summary, shall we? In just a single sentence I was hooked and needed to readthis review will go live on the blog05/13
Let's take another look at that summary, shall we? In just a single sentence I was hooked and needed to read Bellweather Rhapsody. Not only did the plot sound delightful (or as delightful as a murder/suicide can be), but then to be thrown references to The Shining and Agatha Christie! Unfortunately, when all was said and done, I felt this novel relied too much on those references and lacked its own spark. Take away Jack Nicholson and all that's left is a book with many, many (too many!) characters and far-reaching aspirations it can't quite attain.
In its heyday, the Bellweather hotel was THE place to be. Its rooms were constantly rotating with girlfriends and wives - never at the same time! - and every day was a party. Fifteen years ago, however, a bride shot her husband and then hung herself. Since then the hotel has been in a slow state of decline, the only time its rooms are mostly full is once a year for Statewide, a high school music festival. Careers can be made at Statewide and the best musicians from across the country show up to put their talents on full display. This year, however, a girl goes missing - and no one's quite certain whether or not she's dead - and the events from fifteen years ago seem to be replaying once more.
I wasn't joking when I mentioned the sheer number of characters. Usually I follow a 'the more the merrier' adage when it comes to characters and storylines. Here, however, I had a hard time keeping them straight and in one case didn't figure out two characters were completely different people until 100 pages from the end. While I'm not entirely blameless, I do think the novel suffered for not having clear-cut characters: readers shouldn't be confused as to who's who. In my case, I was thoroughly convinced Minnie's sister/brother-in-law was the couple from fifteen years ago; they were all at the Bellweather for the wedding and it was Minnie who discovered the bodies. Imagine my surprise then when Minnie's reintroduced over one hundred pages later with her family alive and well. There was simply too much to keep straight; characters and storylines that were mentioned in the beginning of the novel were completely forgotten about by the time the ending rolled around.
I felt Bellweather Rhapsody tried too hard to be too many things and tackle too many topics: Rabbit's sexuality was the focus of his chapters from the get-go - he's decided to come out to his sister - and by the time the climax rolls around, it's SO anti-climatic that I wasn't sure what the point was the begin with. In a single throw-away remark April mentions she knows he's gay and that's that. The entire book was spent waxing poetic about the boys he's crushed on in the past, the moment he realized he was different, what will his parents say!, there's a cute boy at Statewide and Rabbit's ready for a new beginning...it all culminated into one whispered question and then never brought up again.
There's a Scottish conductor who was once a prodigy until he lost three fingers in a barfight, a former prodigy who grew up to be evil incarnate and has groomed her prodigy of a daughter to be the best, a chaperone who had once loved music and carries a world of guilt on her shoulders, the hotel concierge who's slowly losing touch with reality - the list goes on. I honestly enjoyed these characters and their stories - I especially liked Fisher and Rabbit - but the focus quickly blurred toward the end to the point where I truly have no idea if certain characters even existed or if certain scenes ever happened. Perhaps that was the point of the novel and I missed it entirely. That said, when it comes to mysteries I like - and expect! - clear-cut answers and, sadly, Bellweather Rhapsody failed to deliver.
I don't want to give the impression that the novel was all bad - it certainly wasn't! When it was good it was great and I was thoroughly ensnared. Unfortunately, those moments of brilliance were dampened by the multitude of narratives and plot points and readers should never be confused. I'm positive Bellweather Rhapsody will find its audience - I wanted so badly to love it! - but it just wasn't for me. This year I took a long look at publishers and which imprints work for me. When it comes to Houghton Mifflin, I tend to enjoy their Young Adult novels far more than Adult, and Bellweather Rhapsody further proves my findings....more
I wish I had something better to say, or at least something more to comment on. Truth be told, nothing about The Night Garden grabbed me. I didn't carI wish I had something better to say, or at least something more to comment on. Truth be told, nothing about The Night Garden grabbed me. I didn't care about the setting, I didn't care about the characters. I didn't care that instead of a bed, Olivia's sleeps outside in a garden full of poisonous plants. The magical aspect did nothing for me. If you're new to Magical Realism, please don't start with this novel. If you're a fan of the genre, I'd still say give this one a pass. Maybe if I was stuck in a waiting room for an hour and had nothing better to read I might be inclined to give this one another shot, but as it stands, I simply didn't care enough to continue.
On the day she is to be married, Princess Lia makes the rash decision to flee. She leaves behind her family, her home, everything she has ever known for a new life, a life where she's free to do whatever she pleases and marry whomever she chooses. As First Daughter, she was nothing but a disappointment. All First Daughters are given the Gift, the ability to see and predict the future, but somehow this ability was passed over Lia. She grew up watching the effects it had on her own mother, another First Daughter, and realized nothing good could come from it.
Despite what the marriage would bring to her kingdom, Lia runs away, her maid in tow. They conspire to head to the maid's hometown, a quiet little village where they can hide, and along the way barter for clothes, food, and horses. Unfortunately for Lia, the Prince isn't one to handle rejection quite so easily and there's also an assassin on her trail. That quiet life Lia had hoped for? Not gonna happen.
It's a shame this book didn't live up to my expectations. I honestly wanted to like it! It's not for a lack of skill - Pearson writes beautifully. Instead it's because I was lied to; the entire novel was a lie. The Kiss of Deception is pitched as Fantasy - High Fantasy at that! - when it's actually an almost-500 page love triangle with a 'twist' that was so confusing I went back and reread earlier chapters because I had thought I misread.
I was looking forward to this princess who shares my name, particularly when other bloggers began lavishing her with praise over what a strong female she is. I'm wondering if I read a different book. Okay, sure, Lia has been practicing with a dagger, but where's the kickass woman I was promised? She puts on an ever-so-brave face to wait on tables at a bar. She carelessly throws a generations-old ceremonial robe into a river and dons filthy commoners' clothing. Clearly I missed something.
Because there's nothing else as far as actual plot goes, the love triangle dealt with the Prince and the Assassin and the minute these two walk into the bar they're all Lia can think about. One is dark-haired and brooding. The other is light and full of warmth. Gag. When Lia wasn't pining after these two she was listening to Pauline wax poetic about her own love. A medieval tavern does not a High Fantasy make, Pearson! Dishing out mugs of ale to dockworkers doesn't give you a free pass. The Kiss of Deception was a long, drawn out romance and had I known that, I would never have bothered.
Naturally there's a Big Reveal, Lia chooses one of the boys, and that's that. The entire thing could have been condensed into a novella. If you're looking for a new Fantasy series, look elsewhere. Trust me, this isn't what you're looking for. However, if you're a big fan of romance and love triangles, you might want to check it out. I've heard good things about Pearson's Jenna Fox series, but after this book, you'll be hard-pressed to convince me they're worth reading....more
I like posting reviews on release dates, but this one drops (ha) on my mom's birthday and I refuse to soil (ha) her day with this book. Instead, the rI like posting reviews on release dates, but this one drops (ha) on my mom's birthday and I refuse to soil (ha) her day with this book. Instead, the review will go live on the blog3/17
With my reviews, I tend to follow a format. Hyde, however, made me so angry - and nauseous - that I'm going to jump right into things. I apologize for the quotes below. I know they're gross, but so is this book. Avoid it.
I'm not alone. Believe me, I am not alone.
I was so looking forward to having a great, albeit creepy, time with Hyde. After all, it's a reimagining of Jekyll and Hyde, but one where Hyde is the hero and shown in a sympathetic light. Unfortunately, I didn't get that at ALL here. Hyde is foul and disgusting, fully willing to do Jekyll's dirty work for him and kill with no remorse.
The chapter titles confused me. They consist of four days, yet the story lasts far longer than that. I wasn't entirely sure what these days meant. At first I thought perhaps that was how long Hyde was in control of the body, but it quickly became apparent that wasn't the case; in one chapter we're with Hyde for over a month!
You would think Hyde would be a fascinating character, right? Sadly, it was the minor, secondary characters I felt more for. Jeannie, a sixteen-year-old prostitute Hyde frequently visits who winds up moving in with him (along with her younger sister) and ultimately becomes pregnant. At one point the sisters are cast out of the estate and that's it. Jeannie wasn't even given the chance to tell Hyde about the baby. I wanted more about her. Where did she go? What happened to the baby? Out of everyone, Jeannie was the character I was the most drawn to, and she was practically written out of the story and forgotten about. Another character I found intriguing was one who wasn't even in the story: Emile Verlaine. Before the novel starts, Jekyll experiences a bit of scandal while in France when a young boy under his care committed suicide. Through a series of narratives, we learn Emile had other personalities, much like Jekyll. These personalities were separate entities with their own characteristics and likes and dislikes. Again, however, the 'screen-time' wasn't enough for me and ended far too soon.
Hyde would have been a fairly lackluster story had I not noticed just how obsessed with fecal matter it was. At first it was a bird dropping on Hyde's jacket. This happened twice and two scenes seemed two too many. It was then it became apparent that Hyde was a book about shit:
Dr. Petit said that L'inonnu mixed his own feces into the paint. pg. 211
The fecal stink from Carew was still in my nostrils... pg. 225
Numbly, I picked at my buttons, dragging off my sticking clothes. I pulled down my trousers and drawers and stared at the filthy streaks down my legs, a blast of stench making my cover my mouth and cough. I had soiled myself. pg. 227
We passed a horse pulled up to the kerb who lifted his tail and ejected a pile of green droppings that steamed like hot food. pg. 258
He dropped the book into the pot, he turned and unbuckled his trousers, hunkered down, and strained out a dry painful curl of movement. He stood and looked woozily down at the soiled book. pg. 289
Nope. No thank you. I wash my hands (both figuratively AND literally, if you please) of this novel and it is with a hearty sigh of relief that I'm finally done with it.
Disgusting and unnecessary, Hyde is a novel that I honestly cannot recommend. To anyone. At the end of the book is the original story, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and if you're interested in the inspiration (if you want to call it that) for Hyde, you can easily find a copy for much cheaper at a used bookstore. I hate writing negative reviews without anything positive to include, but there was nothing positive to be said about this book. It was less than 300 pages? I suppose that's a plus. It's really a shame; I love HMH's Young Adult books, but this Adult novel was such a disappointment. Do yourself a favor and avoid this one....more
Let's face it: dinosaurs have been culturally demarcated as kitschy kid stuff - triggers for nostalgia and ironic whimsy, but not a subject to take seriously.
Unfortunately, Mr. Switek isn't wrong. A fascination with dinosaurs is practically a rite of passage for children - I know I certainly spent the better part of my childhood obsessing over prehistoric creatures. That same fascination as an adult, however, seems to be frowned upon and shamed. Switek himself mentions these dinosaur-loving adults are seen as little more than oversized children playing in the dirt.
With My Beloved Brontosaurus, Switek sheds light on the world of paleontology and shows just how serious these scientists are.
"Brontosaurus" as I knew the beast - a hulking pile of flesh and bone that bathed in Jurassic swamps - never actually existed. Almost everything about the monstrous creature - its lifestyle, its skull, and, most regrettably, its name - were human inventions drawn from prehistoric skeletons that actually supported a different form. I had been fooled! The dinosaur I met was a petrified museum zombie, shuffling on even though scientists had shot it down decades before.
Brontosaurus, T. rex, Triceratops. All dinosaurs we fondly remember, right? I, for one, remember that dark day when I learned Brontosaurus was the dinosaur that never was: an error in labeling and classifying fossils led to this hulking beast being declared its own species, when in fact, it was an Apatosaurus all along. Switek also felt a loss and openly discusses his feelings regarding one of the most beloved dinosaurs.
At only 200 pages, My Beloved Brontosaurus is a lovely, bite-size bit of pop-science. Each chapter is dedicated to a different mystery surrounding dinosaurs: what color they were, their feathers, how they mated (cue much immature giggling on my end), what they sounded like, just how the extinction came about. Despite an abundance of scientific info and terminology, Switek has the ability to write in a way that I never felt lost or confused. I didn't feel in over my head and I'm sure that aspect alone will appeal to many people.
Throughout the book I learned SO much! Things I had never even considered were suddenly brought to the forefront and I was thrilled. While I had been aware of certain dinosaurs having feathers - I'm looking at you, Mr. Velociraptor - I was shocked to learn that it's now speculated that the majority of dinosaurs had at least a coating of fuzz. Sit back and conjure up an image of a fuzzy Tyrannosaurus charging at you.
When I finished My Beloved Brontosaurus I was overwhelmed by the thought of just how little is known about these creatures and their time on earth. So many significant discoveries were made in just the past two years alone! Scientists have begun testing fossils to determine dinosaurs' coloring and those images we're all familiar with? It's now known that those dinosaurs were juveniles . From birth to death, dinosaurs changed so rapidly that what were originally thought to be completely separate species are now thought to be one and the same. Torosaurus, for example, is now being proposed as the fully formed, mature Triceratops.
Interspersed with many Jurassic Park scenes (in which Switek deftly separates fact from fiction), as well as a Star Wars moment or two, My Beloved Brontosaurus is a wonderfully smart book that can be easily digested with only a bare minimum of previous dinosaurs knowledge - in fact, I think Switek would prefer the reader NOT to have those false, preconceived beliefs. No longer are dinosaurs slow-moving, dim-witted mountains of flesh. Make way for a new breed of creature: agile, smart, capable of tracking prey. I'm pleased to say the age of the dinosaur is back.
An added bonus is the SUPER AWESOME dusk jacket! It unfolds to become a poster!...more
Reviewing Sacrifice isn't easy for me. I had such high expectations and Brigid Kemmerer totally let me down. Everything the previous novels had been wReviewing Sacrifice isn't easy for me. I had such high expectations and Brigid Kemmerer totally let me down. Everything the previous novels had been working up to - the entire point of the series - wasn't even mentioned in this book and half the characters didn't even appear. The fate of one of the character's came out on nowhere and didn't get a reaction from anyone. Really, Brigid? I expected more from Sacrifice, I expected more from you. You're so much better than this novel and I'm disappointed that this is how the series is going to end. I don't mind sad endings if there's closure, but here? Sacrifice practically ended in the middle of a scene. In fact, I thought it was the middle of a scene: when I went to the next page I was shocked to discover I had finished the book. My e-ARC of Sacrifice is 424 pages. The book ended on page 274. Those other 150 pages? Reprintings of the novellas. The novellas that were in the previous books. I don't know what was going on with this book - I know Brigid has a new baby, maybe that played into it? - but Sacrifice was a total letdown.
The undiscussed surgeries lay like a weapon on the table before them. Her mother knew, despite the jabs about Anna's weight and the pointed comments about her unemployment, that as someone who wandered the plasticized wilderness somewhere between Joan Rivers and Michael Jackson, she should only go so far.
37-year-old Anna has just found herself out of a job. With a (much younger) roommate in a perpetual state of unpaid internship, Anna's world revolves around refreshing Gawker and Huffington Post and waiting for e-mails that never arrive. While the rest of her friends are happily settled down with a child or two, Anna gives in to Internet rumors and the latest fads.
After discovering a super underground director and his films, Anna decides being a filmmaker is her calling and promptly throws away $3500 on a video camera. Weeks later, the box still remains unopened and Anna's funds are rapidly shrinking. She takes to Craigslist and responds to a post. Shortly after she meets up with Taj, a filmmaker in his own right and becomes a member of his crew.
Between ignoring her mother and her friends-turned-life-coach, living with a newly-pregnant roommate, and bills that won't go away, Anna finds herself thrown into the chaotic world of film festivals.
"Know what people really find comforting?" Taj continued, "Failure. Humiliation. Defeat. That's what makes people feel better." "You think so?" she said. "Think about it. Nothing brings people together like a good scandal. Nothing makes them happier than to see something fall from a great height."
I had such high hopes for Note to Self, guys! It sounded like a really fun, quick novel. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy it half as much as I had hoped and a good deal lies with the way the blurb set it up.
Hailed as "A witty, keenly observant look at our Internet-obsessed culture", I was totally on board. Much to my dismay, however, Note to Self was neither witty, nor Internet-related. At all. Oh, sure, Anna talks about refreshing tabs and always checking her e-mail, but I was expecting, you know, a story. Instead, Anna - at times I COMPLETELY forgot Anna was pushing 40, she acted twenty years younger - was completely irresponsible with her extremely limited funds, bought an outrageously expensive camera, and pretended she knew about art.
The entire time I was reading I kept waiting for something to happen, that pivotal moment when the ball got rolling. I was shocked when I realized I was halfway into the book and Anna was still puttering around her apartment! Eventually Anna meets Taj through a Craigslist ad and goes to 'work' for him - basically doing menial tasks for his assistant for little or no pay. ...and that's it.
Look. I'm all for character-driven stories with super slow plots or no action. But unlike Note to Self, those stories actually feature interesting - for good or bad reasons - characters. There wasn't a single character in Note to Self I liked. Anna was more a teenager than a nearly-40-year old woman. Taj was simply a jerk. His film buddies were so interchangeable they melded together to form one entity in my mind.
At the very end of the book, Anna announces she has an Internet addiction and Taj flies her out to a city in order to 'cure' her. By this point I had lost all interest whatsoever and Taj's eventual betrayal did little to shock or surprise me.
It was with a very hearty FINALLY! that I finished this book. Perhaps I just didn't get it, but Note to Self was a disappointment and let me wanting so much more....more
Chock-full of metaphory goodness, 2AM at The Cat's Pajamas beautifully weaves together three storylines gravitating around a past-its-prime jazz club.Chock-full of metaphory goodness, 2AM at The Cat's Pajamas beautifully weaves together three storylines gravitating around a past-its-prime jazz club. The novel's Old World feel perfectly suited the smokey barroom. The secondary characters were just as intriguing as the key figures and the foul-mouthed nine-year-old at the center of it all quickly became a favorite of mine. With it's catchy title and gripping characters, I can easily see this novel gaining a following, maybe not in the mainstream media, but underground - and I don't see that as a bad thing at all! This is a special novel that I'll have at the ready whenever someone asks for a solid story, but without all the hype and fanfare.
brown girl dreaming is a book I need to own in hardback; a review copy just won't cut it. This is a story I want to cherish and share and I want it tobrown girl dreaming is a book I need to own in hardback; a review copy just won't cut it. This is a story I want to cherish and share and I want it to have a permanent place on my shelves. There are so many words I keep repeating: gorgeous, beautiful, raw, heart-breaking, and although I feel like a broken record, brown girl dreaming IS all of these things - and so, so much more. I cannot say enough about this memoir. Go out and buy a copy now.
Glow is the kind of novel I want to shout about, the kind of novel I want to shove into the hands of complete and total strangers. I’m floored that itGlow is the kind of novel I want to shout about, the kind of novel I want to shove into the hands of complete and total strangers. I’m floored that it’s a debut and I’m a tiny bit angry with myself for not discovering it sooner. This is a book written for me. A family deep-rooted in the South, heavy-hitting themes tackled respectfully but without sugar-coating anything, a well of faith, and just a hint of magic. Glow is a phenomenal novel that left me breathless. Not only will I be itching for whatever Tuccelli happens to write next, but you can bet I’ll be pushing this novel on whoever gets within shouting distance! Do yourself a favor, guys. Read this book.
With a title like The Promise of Amazing, the jokes come all too easy - particularly when the book isn't quite what was, well, promised. To cut rightWith a title like The Promise of Amazing, the jokes come all too easy - particularly when the book isn't quite what was, well, promised. To cut right to the point, the book fails to deliver on its intriguing premise. If you're a long-time reader of the blog you might recognize the phrase Matthew Pearl Effect, a term I've applied to novels that sound fantastic, but just don't live up to expectations (after numerous attempts at Matthew Pearl's novels I've finally come to terms that it's definitely an It's-Not-Me-It's-You situation - Pearl's story ideas are incredible, but his execution is severely lacking). It certainly didn't help that early reviews were less than stellar.
Sadly, the ridiculously adorable cover wasn't enough to save The Promise of Amazing and it was only its fast pace and short chapters that kept me from filing it away in the DNF folder.
Wren is the typical Good Girl: she maintains good grades, helps out at the family's King Arthur-themed dining hall, and wouldn't ever think of going against her parents' wishes. Definitely the kind of girl you'd take home to meet your parents. Grayson, however, is the boy your mother warned you about. A self-professed playboy, he was kicked out of his academy after a term paper scheme was discovered. Then there's the little crime ring he and his buddies hatched: using false names they 'hunted' for rich girls and seduced them in an attempt to gain access to the mansions filled with jewelry and fancy electronics. Through connections they would sell the stolen goods and begin saving the money for a trip to Amsterdam.
Once Grayson was kicked out of St. Gabe's phone calls from his friends came less and less frequently until it was just Grayson, his father, and his stepmother. Visits to his mother are few are far between; although Grayson adores his two young stepsiblings, it's his stepfather he's not exactly keen on. His prowess on the lacrosse field once made him the apple of Laird's eye. His recent expulsion suddenly turned him into an embarrassment, someone never to be discussed with colleagues and golf buddies.
Wren and Grayson had two completely different lives and although Wren's brother attended St. Gabe's, her path would have never crossed Grayson's were it not for a cocktail weenie. When Grayson began choking at the Camelot, Wren did the first thing she could think of: she performed the Heimlich Maneuver. It was this scene, twenty pages into The Promise of Amazing, that kicked off a series of eyerolls:
Then I thought of Wren; her body pressed against my back, soft but strong, and fighting for me.
Connecting with her had felt different.
...burning up at the thought of how intimately I'd already touched him.
Since the night I saved him, I'd felt a magnetic pull toward Grayson so strong it scared me.
All of those quotes took place between pages 22 and 36 of my e-ARC. These quotes were only the beginning of my issues with this book. Someone choking is not sexy. Performing the Heimlich should NEVER be viewed as an intimate act. I have seen people choke. I have witnessed the Heimlich being performed in order to save a life. None of these instances got me all hot and bothered and it's disgusting that this was the case for The Promise of Amazing.
The moment Wren realized Grayson was choking she immediately leapt into action. She saved him, he promptly threw up all over her shoes, and then began thinking about the "connection" they just shared. Also, his father doesn't feel the need to take him to a hospital or have him checked out in any fashion. Nope. All good here. Instead the two take off - I honestly forget where they headed, either back home or out on the town, but it certainly wasn't somewhere I'd want to go if I had nearly died ten minutes beforehand.
This "magnetic pull" was so strong between Wren and Grayson that they only needed to go on one date before declaring their love for one another. Prior to their date this scene was the ONLY TIME the pair had interacted.
So The Promise of Amazing wouldn't be seen as solely romance (I'm guessing), Constantine decided to throw in an extremely weak subplot regarding a SOOPER SEKRIT PLAN. Unfortunately, like the rest of the book, there just wasn't anything there of substance and a plot that had the potential to be interesting took a heavy hit in favor of the lackluster romance. Using the name Mike ...something (I already forgot his assumed alias), Grayson ~wooed the laydays~ and when a girl brought him back to her house he immediately set to work planning his method of attack. How would the guys be able to get in - were the parents going on a trip? would the house be empty at some point? was there a keycode he could memorize? He also began snooping about, looking for things worth taking.
The previous summer Grayson had slept with a girl named Allegra and, in the process, stole a large flat-screen television. Instead of calling the police/doing ANYTHING about it, Allegra's parents simply shrugged it off and bought a new one. Grayson and his friends would party in their pool house whenever the family wasn't there and thought nothing of it. Shortly after Wren and Grayson begin dating (maybe three interactions at this point) Wren walks in on Grayson/Mike putting the moves on Allegra at the mall. Instead of breaking up with him or, you know, being angry or upset, Wren makes out with him in a dressing room. A+ move there, book!
There are even MORE subplots, one involving Grayson's friend kissing Wren, and when the climax happens, the boys (minus the one toting some pot) get off scot-free. These boys face NO punishment or consequences for their actions. In the end everything is a-okay.
"What he did was awful, but he sort of got karmic payback getting kicked out of school. Don't you think? And, well, he hasn't done any of this in a while, right? Like months. A guy with a past is hot."
Just remember girls, catching your boyfriend cheating and stealing only makes him even more swoon-worthy!!
The Promise of Amazing was a book I was looking forward to, but turned out to be such a disappointment. Steer clear of this one....more
The Accidental Empress proves Allison Pataki is not a one-hit wonder; this woman is here to stay and, my goodness, does she have stories to tell! As wThe Accidental Empress proves Allison Pataki is not a one-hit wonder; this woman is here to stay and, my goodness, does she have stories to tell! As with The Traitor’s Wife, I savored every chapter, relished over every paragraph when I normally would race to the end. Here, however, I took my time and when I finally finished (only four days later – and to be honest, I’m surprised I finished that quickly: this is a big book that demands a lot of attention) I felt hollow. I wasn’t ready to let go and give up these people I had come to care for. Pataki describes the Hapsburg court in such vivid detail it was jarring to look up and realize I was in my living room (sadly, nowhere close to being anything as grand as a palace)....more
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....more
On the morning I was scheduled to die, a large barefoot man with a bushy red beard waddled past my house.
That, my friends, is how you start a book.
Jack McKinley was just like any other 13-year old boy: always woke up late for school, didn't want a babysitter while his father worked out of town, dreaded math tests. His world changed one morning when he passed out just before school. The next thing he knew he was in a hospital with the strange red-beared man claiming he was a doctor. Suddenly Jack was whisked away to a totally remote island - radar doesn't work there, it's not on any map, even the inhabitants aren't entirely sure where they are.
Along with Jack, three other 13-year olds are housed at the giant compound: the Karai Institute. There's Marco, athlete extraordinaire; Aly, a genius hacker; and Cass, able to memorize anything. Jack learns he's not like other kids. He's one of the Select, an extremely small group of kids who possess a specific gene. This gene allows their natural talents to expand and become heightened. Unfortunately, Jack also learns that no Select has lived past 14. It's at the Institute that Jack receives treatment in order to halt his impending doom - and possible discover the secrets of Atlantis in the process.
The Colossus Rises was fun! It started out a bit slow and bogged-down with all the world-building and explanation, but once the action started, I settled in and enjoyed the ride.
The Select all bear a white λ in their hair. I don't know if it'll become key in the following books, but it seemed unnecessary in this one. Especially since it doesn't really do anything - Aly dyed her hair and her λ is covered, resulting in...nothing. It makes the Select special snowflakes and nothing more.
While reading I couldn't figure out if certain characters were good guys or bad guys. Even after finishing I'm still questioning certain actions and scenes. The Professor in particular. He used these children as pawns, as a way to discover the heart of Atlantis and uncover the seven hidden powers. However, there were times when it truly felt as though he cared for them.
The children were great. Jack, Cass, Marco, Aly, they all had their own personalities and felt like real kids. They questioned authority, they were scared, they joked around, they missed their parents. Marco was loud and boisterous to the point of being annoying and overdone, but even he was great. Although I could have done without his constant Brother Jack/Sister Aly.
The thing about horror - real-life horror, not the kind you see in movies - is that it is so silent. No screaming sound track, no fancy camera angles. Just two bodies vanishing into the shadows. Gravity doing its work.
Things really got good toward the end. After a mistake on Jack's part unleashes griffins the kids uncover old riddles and codes telling them where to go to track down the seven powers. The seven wonders of the ancient world. Their first stop: the Colossus of Rhodes. Unfortunately for them, the statue has long since been destroyed and what's left is buried deep under the sea.
The Colossus Rises is a wonderful start to a new series! Although my studies dealt with other aspects of history, I've always been fascinated with ancient history - the Greeks in particular. The seven wonders of the ancient world? Sign me up! From the moment I first heard about this book I was intrigued and I wasn't disappointed. I'm hoping that, with the world-building and explanations out of the way, the next book will jump right into the action. I can easily see this series appealing to a younger crowd although I certainly enjoyed it myself!...more
Cracked is a novel that came out of nowhere and took me by surprise. Initially I wasn't expecting more than a run-of-the-mill YA Paranormal. By the end of the first chapter, however, I was completely hooked!
Meda isn't quite sure what she is, but she knows it isn't good. See, Meda eats souls. And she likes it. Meda's mother always knew Meda wasn't like the other children - public schooling (or any schooling, for that matter) couldn't handle Meda and her tendency for violent outbreaks. Her mother's gruesome death has left Meda to fend for herself and Meda is more than capable of doing so.
After gaining admittance to an institution, Meda finally has her target cornered. She's had her sights on this man for a while, and now it's time for action. Unfortunately, there are others - some like Meda, some not - who arrive with plans of their own. When she's 'rescued' by a well-intentioned young man, Meda decides to make the most of it; Chi is a Crusader, a Templar seeking to rid the world of Demons. These demons he fights sound startlingly familiar to Meda. Here's her chance to find out just what she is - and possibly catch a snack or two in the process.
Cracked was, well, delicious. It was a fun, take-no-prisoners novel that I hadn't realized I needed. Meda was a fantastic character - though readers will either love her or hate her. She's snarky and rude and doesn't hide the fact that she is what she is. She had very few redeeming qualities - if any at all - and it's this anti-hero trait that made her so refreshing and enjoyable. The Knights themselves were all a great bunch too: Chi, the fearless leader who's just a few crayons short of a box; Jo, the no-nonsense girl who's haunted by a wound; Uri, the most adorable 12-year-old who practically worships Chi. I found myself truly caring for these characters and one scene even left me teary-eyed.
Not only did Crewe turn the likeable main character idea on its head, but she also did an absolutely wonderful job with the romance. The romance is between two secondary characters and I was rooting for them the entire time. If you squint a bit, there's a sliiight chance that Meda might have her own romance in the next book, but it really could go either way - and for once, I don't mind. Meda's character and the story itself are strong enough on their own to where I'm fine with the lack of a love interest.
Cracked was a short story, but one I was fully invested in and enjoyed immensely. If you're looking for a story that's outside the usual YA Paranormal, check this one out. This is a great start to a new series and I can't wait for the sequel!...more
In a sentence:All the Light We Cannot See is a haunting, lyrical novel that broke my heart a hundred times over - and I would gladly allow it anotherIn a sentence:All the Light We Cannot See is a haunting, lyrical novel that broke my heart a hundred times over - and I would gladly allow it another hundred shots.
Calling it now: All the Light We Cannot See is going to be the book to read this summer and it will definitely appear on numerous Best Of lists at the end of the year. I knew going into it that it wouldn't be a happy-go-lucky tale (wartime fiction rarely is), but I hadn't expected to be so thoroughly enchanted by the characters Doerr created.
In Germany, orphans Werner and his sister Jutta are living in a house with several other children and a sweet caretaker, Frau Elena. Though Elena originally came from France, these days she takes care with her words, no longer singing the lullabies from her youth and hiding what remains of her accent the best she can. While Werner was always a bright child full of wonder and questions, it's during this time that he discovers a penchant for repairing radios. Word of his skills quickly spread and soon he's recruited for a military academy where his brain will be put to good use.
When she was six Marie-Laure lost her eyesight. Since then, her ever-patient Papa has been building a miniature of their town, helping her memorize the streets and intersections. Soon Marie is able to get about, knowing just how many steps she needs to take to get to where she's going. When rumors begin circulating about the threat of war, Papa thinks nothing of it. His job at the museum will keep them safe. As the months wear on, however, it's clear those rumors have become fact. The two head to Saint-Malo, Papa carrying a special package and Marie-Laure with her favorite book, and seek refuge at Uncle Etienne's house.
You know those novels that are so beautiful and have such an effect on you that nothing you say could ever do it justice? All the Light We Cannot See is one of those books. I cheered when Marie realized she knew her way around town. I panicked when two boys in the orphanage joined the Hitler Youth. I teared up countless times. This novel elicited such a range of emotion and I truly loved every minute.
It's not just the main characters I came to care for. Frederick, a boy at the military academy, had such a fascination with birds. He could hear a bird and know exactly what kind it was. Frederick was just about the closest thing you could get to a wholly good person during the war and I still can't give too much thought to his story without becoming misty-eyed. While Etienne becomes far more prominent in the latter half of the book, his past was something I couldn't forget. Etienne's brother, Marie-Laure's grandfather, fought in the First World War and never came home. Since then, Etienne has refused to leave the house, bunkering down in his bedroom, sometimes not even leaving his bed. He has an array of radios and when they were younger, he and his brother would broadcast science programs for children. It's one of these broadcasts that Werner hears all the way in Germany.
While its 500+ pages might seem daunting and intimidating, this book is actually a quick read. The chapters are ridiculously short, the majority clocking in at under three pages. Some chapters aren't more than a few paragraphs. In an interview he did with Powells, Doerr explains his reasoning:
My prose can be dense. I love to pile on detail. I love to describe. I'm much more reluctant to give the reader entrance into a character's feeling than describe what's around him or her and have the reader intuit the internal life of a character. I know that's demanding, so this was a gesture of friendliness, maybe. It's like I'm saying to the reader, "I know this is going to be more lyrical than maybe 70 percent of American readers want to see, but here's a bunch of white space for you to recover from that lyricism."
I, for one, would gladly read another 500 pages of his lyricism.
I'm not entirely sure why I was under the impression that this would be a love story (perhaps cliches and tropes have become so ingrained in my mind that I automatically think every story will be romance - this one's all on you, YA), but Marie and Werner don't meet until the very end. And even then it's for such a short time. All the Light We Cannot See didn't need romance to keep it afloat.
There's also a side plot involving a legendary jewel that's said to come with a curse. The gemstone had been in the museum, but when the pieces were moved to the countryside, the stone went with it. Three replicas were made, and the four men who are transporting the stone have no idea whether they have the real one or an imitation. Daniel LeBlanc, Marie's Papa, is one of those men. There was a fairy tale-like quality to this story that I think blended beautifully with the horrors of war.
I could honestly go on and on about this gorgeous book. All the Light We Cannot See is not just a book that needs to be read, but one that needs to be bought - and after finishing I immediately ordered a copy of my own. I'm not familiar with any of Doerr's other works - I hadn't even heard of him until this book - but if they're anything like this book, I need to get my hands on them, stat....more
Whenever Jojo Moyes releases a new novel I know I'm in for a good time. The moment I have it in my hands I begthis review will go live on the blog7/1
Whenever Jojo Moyes releases a new novel I know I'm in for a good time. The moment I have it in my hands I begin planning my day around it (I do not appreciate being interrupted while reading her books!) and set aside huge blocks of time in which to dive deep into Jojo's worlds. Since reading the incredible The Girl You Left Behind last year, I have since gone on to work my way through her backlist (something I rarely do). One Plus One is my fourth Jojo to date (The Last Letter from Your Lover and Silver Bay were both devoured earlier this year) and, while I've adored them all, Jojo's growth and ever-sharpening skills as a writer are evident with each novel.
Because my first two forays into Jojo's works were dual-era novels, I had mistakenly assumed this was her shtick. Silver Bay taught me that wasn't the case and One Plus One follows in its footsteps while still employing the multiple narratives that I love so much. Jess doesn't have much. She lives in a government-provided home, works as a house cleaner for wealthy vacationers, and struggles to make ends meet. Her husband took off two years ago and left Jess to support their daughter and his son on her own. Nicky, a smart-but-brooding teenager, is relentlessly bullied by the neighboring kids. Tanzie is an odd little girl, but phenomenal at math.
One phone call changes their world. When Tanzie is granted a hefty scholarship to an elite private school, Jess is left to find a way to come up with the rest of the cash - and fast. Word of a Mathematics Olympics has the family - and their gigantic dog - piling into a less-than-reliable car and on their way to Scotland.
When Ed was in college, the world was in his palms. He partnered with a buddy and together they created a booming software business, leaving both of them very well-off. Unfortunately, Ed ended up in a rather compromising position with an old college friend and now phrases like 'insider trading,' 'litigation fees,' and - the worst - 'jail time' have become a part of his life. In an attempt to lay low for a bit, Ed heads down the coast to stay in his beachfront home. When he first meets the cleaner he doesn't give her the time of day. The second time he meets her (and her kids and dog broken down on the side of the road) he decides to do something right for once: Ed offers to drive them to Scotland.
To say One Plus One is a road trip novel would be selling it short. Yes, technically, it is, but it's about so much more. These are flawed, broken characters who, over the course of the book, discover what it's like to love and be loved in return. My emotions ran the gamut: I laughed, I cried, I fretted over several choices made but stood in their corner through it all. While reading I lived and breathed these characters and now that it's over, I'm left feeling like I'm six years old again and my best friend has just moved away. I cannot praise Jojo's skill highly enough. She took a relatively ordinary story - single mom trying to support her kids - and turned it into something extraordinary.
One of my favorite things about any Jojo novel is the sheer amount of character growth. She has a no-holds-barred kind of attitude when it comes to her stories and seriously puts her characters through the wringer. Nicky, a Goth boy who likes eyeliner and prefers online friends, became so much more than a moody teenager. Ed, at first an extremely unlikable, egotistical man, did a complete 180° and turned out to be a fantastic - and fascinating - character.
I feel this review is more of me spouting my love for Jojo than anything and, as with each of her books, I'm struggling to find just the right words to say. One Plus One is story that made my heart swell and break - usually within the same chapter! For me, it's a perfect summertime read, though in a different way than your average beach read. The characters come alive and their circumstances - trying to keep up with bills, going from paycheck to paycheck - hit home for many. While most beach reads are about escape, One Plus One takes hold of your hand and shows you there are others out there just like you. And who doesn't love a smelly, drooling dog?
One Plus One is a phenomenal novel and firmly secures Jojo's rank as one of my favorite authors. Are you a long-time fan? Read this. Are you still new to her work and feel a bit overwhelmed by all the love she's received? Read this. Are you looking for a damn fine story? Read this....more
Emma wakes with no memories: she has no idea where she is, what happened to her, or even who she is. She soon learns there was an accident but she's making incredible progress and will be back on her feet in no time. Although Dr. Travista runs his daily tests and her husband is patient and doting, Emma can't help but feel that something isn't right. Her recurring nightmares - and, at times, waking flashbacks - feature another man, a man she knows she fiercely loved, and there's a little voice in her head that guides her in what she should (and shouldn't) say. She wants to believe Declan when he tells her stories of how they met, but why can't she remember their wedding and why would their honeymoon take place overseas when she's deathly afraid of flying?
There's always an exception to the rule and Achetype is it. I've been burned by dystopian novels so many times in the past that I nearly passed on this one, but something made me go for it and I'm so glad I did! Despite my enjoyment, it's incredibly hard coming up with the right words to describe it. In the beginning, Emma is extremely vulnerable - she readily accepts whatever someone tells her (she has no reason to believe otherwise). Over time, however, she notices small cracks in the seemingly perfect life she has with Declan and starts questioning her surroundings.
I will say that were it not for a few futuristic pieces of technology (transporters, lasers that heal cuts, etc) and a throwaway line about a war and America splitting in two, Achetype could be mistaken for a contemporary novel - probably the reason I enjoyed it so much? As Emma digs deeper into her life before the accident, we learn about a resistance but even that felt a little vague. I think the reasoning for this dealt with Emma's confusion and memory loss. Once she regains her memory, her past comes more into play and it seems the resistance will serve a larger role in the second book. As it stands, Archetype focuses more on the romance and, for once, I didn't have a problem with the love triangle. It's clear from the beginning who the 'winner' will be.
While I definitely enjoyed this novel and tore through it, my recommendation comes with reservations. This new society is very misogynistic. There's a shortage of females and only those who are able to bear children are married - usually after they are bought by the highest bidder. Girls are sent to WTCs - Women's Training Centers - where they are basically taught to become dutiful wives. Women who are not married or who are unable to have children end up doing menial work no one else wants. The women who are married off are branded so that, if she were to go out in public, men would know she's another man's property. This entire mindset would not sit well with many readers and I completely understand that!
As someone who does not enjoy dystopia, I was shocked to find myself so drawn to this novel! It's an incredibly quick read and kept me thoroughly entertained. The offhand remarks about a war made for some shoddy backstory and the way women were treated as items to be bought and sold made me uncomfortable, but there was something about Archetype I couldn't ignore. This duology won't be for everyone, but I'm certainly looking forward to Prototype!...more