The author was trying to convey too many messages at once. Sometimes they were crude and unsubtle, and someti...moreI don't know what to say about this book.
The author was trying to convey too many messages at once. Sometimes they were crude and unsubtle, and sometimesthe preaching ruined the story for me. But at the end, it was so powerful and beautiful and uplifting that it made me smile--slowly, then all at once (yes, I'm comparing it to TFiOS).(less)
This book is such a cryfest. In fact, at the end when I was getting all teary and trying to convince myself that I definitely wasn't crying or about t...moreThis book is such a cryfest. In fact, at the end when I was getting all teary and trying to convince myself that I definitely wasn't crying or about to cry, I started wondering why I was getting all teary over a contemporary that didn't have anything to do with cancer. (Spoiler alert: I like books that make me cry, as I told you guys in my review of Second Chance Summer. I don't know why, but it could have something to do with feeling ALL OF THE THINGS.)
Saving Francesca isn't anything new. The plotline isn't anything particularly noteworthy. In fact, had I not heard praises of Melina Marchetta's genius being sung all over Twitter and Goodreads, I definitely wouldn't have picked up this book on the basis of its premise or cover, both of which are fairly average for the genre.
So what made it so incredible?
Everything else. Francesca's character, so flawed and so real; Mia's vulnerability; Robert's stoic attitude towards his family and his wife's illness; Will's hesitations; Thomas and Siobhan and Justine and Tara and all of Francesca's wonderful friends.
I don't know how this woman did it, but every single character felt real and every single character had backstory and hopes and dreams. In short, they were like real people, and that's what makes a contemporary outstanding.
There was also the writing. The author can jam-pack so many emotions into a few sentences and write pages of witty banter. I was always fully engaged in the story at every single point, because there was always something going on, and just enough lighthearted humour to counterbalance the heavy emotional stuff going on.
This book is all of the reasons why I love YA contemporary and what I love about YA, all packed into one stunning novel. And because it's set in the suburbs of Sydney and because Francesca's school is so believable since it's so much like mine, I was able to completely immerse myself into this setting without a single doubt.
I can see this story happening to anyone and I can see it happening to me. It's a thought that scares me a little, but that's the whole point of contemporary--to bring you into a world alien enough to be fiction but familiar enough to be home.
This book is a gem, and it's worth nothing short of five stars.
This was the sort of book that made me want to cry.
This was the sort of book that deserves to be framed on the wall of every library.
This book was tru...moreThis was the sort of book that made me want to cry.
This was the sort of book that deserves to be framed on the wall of every library.
This book was truly amazing.
Perhaps it was because Briony reminded me of myself too much. Perhaps it was because Emily was a little like my mother, only kinder. Perhaps it was because I saw myself in the characters. Perhaps it was because the emotions were too real.
Either way, McEwan has created a masterpiece.(less)
Oh, my. This book took my emotions up and down a roller-coaster: intense fear, excitement, tension, then heartbreak. With deeply scary zombie scenes,...moreOh, my. This book took my emotions up and down a roller-coaster: intense fear, excitement, tension, then heartbreak. With deeply scary zombie scenes, violence, and a thorough dose of reality, Courtney Summers has written a true post-apocalyptic masterpiece.
I never thought I'd really love a zombie book. While I border on the 'okay/like them' side for mystery books, horror isn't really my forte. The main reasons for this are that 1. I am a serious scaredy-cat, 2. call me weird, but I get more freaked reading books than watching horror movies, and 3. the Goosebumps series I read as a seven year-old scarred me for life. This is Not a Test was horrifying, but not in the goosebumps-and-shivers sort of way. I never really expected a zombie to leap out at me when I wandered to the kitchen for a glass of water in the middle of the night after reading this. But the scarred heroine, the tragic deaths, and the tension and heartbreak between the characters scared me. The characters were all so human, the delivery of this book so powerful, that I couldn't help but imagine six scared teenagers all alone in a zombie-infested world, making decisions bigger than any teenager--any human--should ever have to make. And I'm not kidding in saying that it truly scared me.
Courtney Summers wields her writing like a natural. I know that most authors spend years and years developing their craft and still have trouble writing scenes that have true emotional impact. This book is 145 pages long, but the story it tells and the writing it delivers stretches so much beyond that. And that's part of what I love about this book--in those short 145 pages, maybe about 30,000 words--she manages to tell so much, to show so much about human nature and teenagers. She isn't writing YA; she writes for YA. There are so many powerful lines in this story, and with language so simple it stunned me, Courtney Summers was able to tell a story that went so far beyond those words.
The characters had backstories. They had families, parents, siblings. And we are shown this--there is tension, there is love, there is romance, there are feelings, and there is hatred. Sloane is an abused child, and her earnest yearning for her sister and her deep longing for a family really touched my heart. She was irreparably broken and we can see that she still is irreparably broken at the end of the story, and that makes her so real.
Thank you to St. Martin's for supplying the ARC and thank you to Julie Cross for this wonderful opportunity to read the story. And here are the notes I wrote for the official Perfect 10 ARC relay post (let me tell you that I did not want to stop and write while I read this story). Page 50: Very exciting so far. Sloane seems like a very interesting character. Can't wait to see where this will go. Page 100: The characters in this book are so flawed, so real, that it makes me love the story even more. Page 145: I don't know what to say. Truly. I'm speechless. It's so tragic and heartbreaking but so tragically hopeful at the same time. I've never read a book quite like this before. I would recommend this book to everyone. It's one of my first zombie novels (yes, I know! Shame on me), but you can bet that I'll be reading many more, as well as closely following Courtney Summers's publishing news from now on! Also, have something nearby to hug when you finish the story. Preferably a cute animal, a jar of Nutella, a bar of chocolate, or some cheese. You might feel a little teary.(less)
Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back...moreSometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.'
The Fault in our Stars was a bit like that.
I don't think I can even write a coherent review for this, but I will try my best. This book left such a deep mark on me that I will never be able to explain to anyone who has not read this book. That nobody will understand until they have read The Fault in our Stars and cried until their eyes are dry.
I read a lot of books; books that are good, and books that are excellent, and books that are amazing and unputdownable.
And then there are books like The Fault in our Stars. Books that are rare and special and only come once along once in fourteen years. Books that are brilliant and humorous and heartbreaking at the same time. Books that etch their way into your soul forever.
This book...really killed me, I'll be perfectly honest here. I knew someone with lung cancer, and let me say that John Green gets pretty damn close to the ugly truth. Deaths from cancer are normally dragged out and incredibly painful with no dignity left for the patient by the end. John Green tells the real cancer story, and I would like to thank him for that.
I know this book probably has huge literary value, that maybe a year or two from now, schools will take this novel and have students and teachers dissect it sentence by sentence. And maybe that's how John Green expected his book to be read, for the full meaning of each paragraph to be understood and discussed, but for me, taking a beautiful and whole novel like this apart and tearing it down is too much. Maybe I will eventually do it and maybe I will learn something that will improve my writing, but for now, I want to keep it in one piece and enjoy this beautiful beautiful beautiful novel a few more times.
I have a chronic illness that causes constant, long-term pain. I believe that grief does change families; mine has changed. For better or for worse, I don't know. I cannot imagine experiencing what Hazel and Gus go through on a daily basis, but I know that every day, thousands of scientists are working around the clock for new drugs that may pave the way for miracles, and that hope is one thing we all--both the healthy and the sick--can have in common. John Green's novel is so much more than a novel; it shows the joy of living and tells a tragic, terribly faulted love story.(less)
First up, Nightpeople was amazing. It was sad, haunting, 'eerily familiar', and it reminded me of what might happen in the future if we don't protect...moreFirst up, Nightpeople was amazing. It was sad, haunting, 'eerily familiar', and it reminded me of what might happen in the future if we don't protect the environment and conserve our energy sources. The story was extremely well written, but the plot was a bit...meh. I pretty much guessed what happened, but there was one unexpected twist in the end about Saria's mother that I wouldn't have guessed.
The characterisation was really, really good. Saria was thoroughly believable, and so was Dariand, although he was a bit annoying at times--he's the sort of character that you love and hate at the same time. There was a point in the story when I wasn't sure whether Dariand was a good or a bad guy, and I loved how Anthony Eaton didn't tell us, straight out.
I also enjoyed the mystery of the Nightpeople. While Dariand and Saria have to duck or hide every time the Nightpeople patrol the Darklands, in the end when Saria is willingly taken by the Nightpeople, they don't seem quite so bad. I'll find out more about that in the next book.
Saria being able to enter someone else's mind and even 'reach' into the Earth is really intriguing, and I look forward to reading more. There was so much left untold in Nightpeople, but I guess that is a good thing, since Eaton will have to keep us interested for another two books.(less)
This book was spectacular and incredibly sad. I was literally in tears by the end.
Before I Die is definitely one of the saddest books I have read, eve...moreThis book was spectacular and incredibly sad. I was literally in tears by the end.
Before I Die is definitely one of the saddest books I have read, ever. It is a haunting narrative of Tessa, a 16-year old with terminal leukaemia, who is given only a few months to live. At first, I thought she would be like Kate Fitzgerald in My Sister's Keeper, who seems completely flat and boring and fragile. Tessa is real. She's got guts, she doesn't mooch around at home all day contemplating life; she's a real kid with a real personality.
Maybe that's why her death made me so sad, even though I knew it was coming. I cried because Tessa was such a real person.
Jenny Downham's writing also makes the story an impressive work of literature. She uses metaphors; just enough of them to make the story beautiful. The writing is matter-of-fact, down-to-earth, and she conveys emotions so well that you can truly feel Tessa and be Tessa.
One of the biggest no-nos of writing stories like this is being overly sappy. This book manages to make you cry and laugh without being annoying and sickly. Tessa doesn't go weepy on everyone and list a whole bunch of metaphors or cliches that are meant to represent a zillion different meanings of life (*cough* Jodie Picoult, I'm not looking at you). It's simple. And it's good.
Before I Die gets 5 stars from me. You need to read it.(less)
As far as I know, virtually everyone who's read The Iron King has loved it--or at least, enjoyed it. And I realise that the reason for this is Julie K...moreAs far as I know, virtually everyone who's read The Iron King has loved it--or at least, enjoyed it. And I realise that the reason for this is Julie Kagawa's amazing writing style. Who can narrate a story and have it flow seamlessly off the page? Who can combine a magical love story with a believable and likeable heroine; write so elegantly and smoothly that readers don't even realise they've given up a few hours of their lives to wander into the Nevernever? Julie Kagawa can.
The most amazing thing about The Iron King is how the author weaves mythology, Shakespeare, and contemporary into a beautiful tale of love and adventure. The faery world is not described in epic detail down to every single darn dust mote in the air (which is a crime I believe that many authors are guilty of committing); it doesn't need to, because Julie Kagawa has the talent to add a little bit of detail here and there until you can simply walk in Meghan's shoes.
Although the story does seem rather cliche at first sight--I mean, just reading the pitch gives off a bit of a cliche-y vibe including the forbidden lust love and the secret destiny, the author manages to create a book of adventure and excitement that many other paranormal authors fail to achieve.
Another thing Julie Kagawa does excellently is Meghan's character. For me, she was thoroughly relatable, relatively headstrong, and she wasn't nearly as whiney as other YA heroines (phew! That's becoming a pet peeve of mine these days--sorry). However, one thing that did have me grinding my teeth and shaking my fist during the rare times when I was actually distracted enough to realise I was, in fact, reading a book, was when Meghan continuously made deals with the faery folk. Honestly, from the first moment and the first deal that Meghan ever made, I instantly knew that deals were a bad thing in the faery world. And Meghan did not seem to realise that as she kept on making deal-after-deal-after-freaking-deal. Which annoyed me to no end. That is, quite honestly, the only quibble I have with the book, and since it's nothing to do with the author, I am not going to dock a star for it.
As for the love interests...I realise that both Ash and Puck are in love (or, should I say, interested) in Meghan, but at this point, I am completely with Ash. It is quite rare that in a love triangle, I love the darker guy, but that is really what happened. The romance scenes made my skin tingle and I am in absolute squee-mode over Ash, which I guess is what the author meant to do all along with all the suspense and the OMG NOW KISS! moments. So brownie points for that, Julie.
Overview: The Iron King was an amazing paranormal adventure. I loved the folklore, I loved the writing, I loved the characters, and above all, I loved the Nevernever. There is virtually nothing I can criticise about this book and I strongly recommend you give it a go. Five stars.(less)
Some damn amazing writing. There was beautiful, lyrical, poetic prose, sad parallels between George and...moreIt won the Pulitzer...what more can you expect?
Some damn amazing writing. There was beautiful, lyrical, poetic prose, sad parallels between George and Howard, but periods in between where I wondered where the story was going. Clarity was not one of its strong points.(less)