This was the most confusing reading experience EVER. EV. ER.
I'm pretty sure whatever editorial team took on this...moreRating: 3.5. Or 4. Or 2. I DON'T KNOW.
This was the most confusing reading experience EVER. EV. ER.
I'm pretty sure whatever editorial team took on this book, they completely missed the first forty or so pages. I barely made it through them: the voice is terrible, the writing is terrible, the dialogue is terrible - reading it made my eyes want to vomit. Everything was over-described. Whenever the MC, Becky, entered a room we got a laundry list of every piece of furniture, down to its make, model, and material. This was told in the first-person, so why did Becky know that such-and-such was made of golden pear wood? I DON'T KNOW, BUT SHE DID.
But I soldiered on! Mostly because of the ridiculous premise; I wanted to see how ridiculous this shit would get. And boy, did it get ridiculous. Dwarves dancing on tables! ...Okay, I almost shut the book right then.
But then! But then! She's on a private jet with an Aaron Carter/Justin Bieber/Justin Timberlake-type (pick your generation of choice), having ended up there by jumping on his motorcycle with no exchange of conversation, and I start to wonder: could this be bordering on satire? Surely that is the only way Rudnick can justify such outlandishness. And then Cartberlake comes out with his declaration, (view spoiler)["I'm gay," (hide spoiler)]and I loved every minute that followed. (view spoiler)[Except maybe the movie director jizzing his pants. Really, Rudnick? (hide spoiler)]
Suffice to say, it only got better and by the end I was erupting into maniacal laughter every few pages, scaring my co-worker, and muttering "bitch-hole" to myself.
I have never known a book that transforms so utterly from page 1 to page last. Yes, some consistency would have been nice - I came perilously close to abandoning "Gorgeous" many times in the first fifty pages, and had I done so, I would have missed out on the genius that is Sheila the Corgi. I will not defend this book's beginning, as it is utter shite, but by God, did it improve. Even when it got better, it KEPT GETTING EVEN BETTER. That or it progressively rotted my brain into insanity. Which, I'll admit, is a possibility. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
An incredible piece of work. Mullane breaks down the California penal system (or, at least, the small segment that she's looking at) in an accessible...moreAn incredible piece of work. Mullane breaks down the California penal system (or, at least, the small segment that she's looking at) in an accessible way: I'm not usually any good with legal jargon, but I followed everything throughout this book. While I'm sure there was some bias (Mullane admits to the subjects of her study becoming friends over time), none of it felt too overt or obstructive. I actually got to meet the author, very briefly, at an NCIBA gathering last spring and she expressed a very genuine passion about her work - I wish I could have spoken to her longer. And that passion really shines through in "Life After Murder." It's a really admirable piece of journalism, on a fascinating subject. (less)
This is NOT your standard Teen Makeover story. It's not even your standard Teen Gets A Makeover And Then Realizes She Doesn't Need...moreFUCKING. BRILLIANT.
This is NOT your standard Teen Makeover story. It's not even your standard Teen Gets A Makeover And Then Realizes She Doesn't Need One story. It's about family, accepting the good with the bad. It's about finding middle ground and treasuring your strengths.
It's impossible for me to gush about what I loved about this story without spoilers. To keep it vague: I loved that it didn't follow YA scripts: the token gay best friend was not sassy or fabulous, the cynical best friend was not always right (or always wrong), and the love triangle did not follow protocol. There wasn't even a perfect happily ever after - nor did things end in tragedy.
It was real.
And I did like the whole pageant aspect. And how, again, while Eulberg highlighted some of the horrors of the children's pageant circuit, she also acknowledged that some kids really love it, and nothing is 110% vilified. (less)
Better than I expected, "Send Me a Sign" reminded me a lot of "Before I Fall" in its realistic capture of older teens. Mia and her friends are Popu...more3.5
Better than I expected, "Send Me a Sign" reminded me a lot of "Before I Fall" in its realistic capture of older teens. Mia and her friends are Popular Girls - a "type" you don't usually see as the MC in YA - and Schmidt does a very good job in making them real, not stereotypes or caricatures. I think Lauren Oliver did a better job, but Schmidt definitely got there.
She also did an admirable job at crafting a "cancer book" that was about so much more. As someone who went through a SERIOUS Laurleen McDaniel phase when I was younger, I've been around the block when it comes to cancer books, and "Send Me a Sign" was notable in its quality. Mia's friends and family realistically struggle in balancing their own grief and supporting Mia, as well as their own general coping. Nothing is black and white; when someone "fails" to support Mia it's for understandable reasons, and it's always clear that she's loved. Everything in this book was very human.
EXCEPT THE FUCKING LOVE TRIANGLE.
If aliens were to judge our culture by our novels, especially YA ones, they would believe that every single woman has two men - generally both attractive - vying for her favor. Personally, I'm lucky if I have one interested party; meanwhile, Mia, mired in cancer, has two super-hotties splayed at her feet.
I would have admired this book a lot more - and enjoyed it a lot more - if the author had instead chosen to either start the book with Mia involved with someone, or get them together toward the beginning, and instead chart the ups and downs of the main plot on a loving relationship. Instead, it's your very typical YA love triangle. I mean, I did like that both boys were good guys - this isn't one where one guy is clearly The Wrong One. But it was still tedious and old. These days, I like to see more realistic portrayals of romance, or the trajectory of a pre-established relationship throughout the plotline. And this book would have been a lot richer for it. (less)
I didn't actually cry reading this, but I teared up, and think I could have cried if I hadn't kept reading it in public places.
I found the style - the...more I didn't actually cry reading this, but I teared up, and think I could have cried if I hadn't kept reading it in public places.
I found the style - the pure written word - of "Code Name Verity" incredibly engaging and easy to read. Silly things, like use of caps, struck me as perfectly voiced. The story itself was heart-breaking and touching, and particularly in the latter half of the book it struck me profoundly. (view spoiler)[As Julie genius unfolds, and the hidden complexities of the story, I was in awe of the writer and of the story itself. And her death, christ, I probably read those paragraphs five times, absorbing it. You knew it was probably going to happen, but when it does... wow. WOW. (hide spoiler)]
One thing that did trip me up: the narrator telling her story from her friend's (Maddie's) point of view made it so I kept confusing who was who - which sometimes worked in terms of effect, but often didn't. For instance, I kept losing track of which one of them was Jaimie's sister. Minor quibble, but it threw me out of the story a few times.
I suspect this is one that, upon re-read, will stick in me even more.
ETA: I brought the star rating down a little, because I remembered something that bothered me while reading, and perhaps bothers me even more upon reflection. And it's pretty critical.
The girls' friendship didn't always feel real.
It was clear they cared about each other, and there were moments when it really did ring true. (view spoiler)[Julie's death, for one. (hide spoiler)] But to a certain extent, it felt like YA insta-love. There's a line in the book: "It's a bit like being in love, finding your best friend," or something to that effect. And it's true: best friendship is glorious and wonderful. However, at that point all they'd done together was a little mission thing, sat under an umbrella, and fired a gun. I realize relationships develop more quickly in extreme circumstances, but honestly. And from then on it was all, "And then she got to see her best friend," "she was so excited to be with her best friend," blah blah fishcakes. Very rarely, in this story about an incredible friendship, did we SEE it, rather than being told that Ginny Weasley is super fabulous how they were the ultimate in kindred spirits. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Definitely my favorite of the trilogy. Alek and Deryn both grapple some real, heart-felt, no-right-answer dilemmas. And, yes, Alek spends some quality...moreDefinitely my favorite of the trilogy. Alek and Deryn both grapple some real, heart-felt, no-right-answer dilemmas. And, yes, Alek spends some quality time being a moron, but I still love him. (less)
3.5? 4? I'm not sure. I think I *want* to like this series more than I did, though "Behemoth" was a definite improvement from "Leviathan." Alek still...more3.5? 4? I'm not sure. I think I *want* to like this series more than I did, though "Behemoth" was a definite improvement from "Leviathan." Alek still steals my heart, and Deryn is marginally less annoying. But something about the whole plot setup for this book felt... lacking. Fillerish.
Thanks go to Netgalley for providing an electronic ARC.
Hovering between 3 and 3.5 stars.
"City of Dark Magic" was remarkable in its unremarkable-ness....moreThanks go to Netgalley for providing an electronic ARC.
Hovering between 3 and 3.5 stars.
"City of Dark Magic" was remarkable in its unremarkable-ness. I'd call it a great airplane book: the plot is suitably twisty, there is intrigue, and a halfway decent romance, but this isn't something that's going to lurk in my thoughts for days to come.
Characters were pretty hit or miss for me: I loved Nico, the dwarf, and found him not only to have the best lines but the most interesting characterization; meanwhile, Senator Yates was merely a caricature of a villain. She reminded me of the evil lady in "Miss Congeniality." She came over as almost comical with her over-the-top bad-guy aspects. The only thing missing from her internal monologues was a solid, background "mwuahaha." And as for the blind kid, everything about her existence felt extraneous.
I loved the setting, and truthfully would have liked to see more Prague-ness show up. I didn't get a strong sense of the city. I did, however, get a strong sense of the history, particularly that which was Beethoven-related, and that really shone through. I enjoyed learning things I hadn't known before(view spoiler)[ and, though fictional, I adored the scene where he plays for Sarah and her dead professor (hide spoiler)].
So, yes. Good. Not great. I'd probably read the sequel, as the projected plot point is intriguing, but I'm not gagging for it, as it were. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I picked up "The Starboard Sea" because I recognized the author - I took a writing class taught by Amber, several years ago. But...more3.5 stars, rounded up.
I picked up "The Starboard Sea" because I recognized the author - I took a writing class taught by Amber, several years ago. But I can definitely say I enjoyed the novel through its own merits.
Jason Prosper is getting his "second chance," spending his senior year of high school at Bellingham, a prep school full of over-privileged, over-indulged boys and girls, most of whom are also on their second (or third) chances. Jason is also suffering a highly unfortunate streak of poor luck - when we meet him, he's mourning the death of his best friend who committed suicide the previous year. At Bellingham, he finds a friend in Aidan (view spoiler)[who also dies - this guy can't catch a break (hide spoiler)] I found the whole thing to be a little burdened - Jason's tragedy is relentless, and while the end of the book was beautiful, and conveyed a spark of hope, it was *almost* too little too late. It left me with that happy, good-book feeling, but when I look back, I'm aware I spent most of the book feeling kind of hopeless and oppressed by this kid's life and circumstances. I wish the feelings of the ending had started to germinate a little earlier. (view spoiler)[But I did love, love, love the image of Cal and Aidan together, right at the end. (hide spoiler)] I also would have liked to see more of Cal - not only was he enjoyable as a character, but he offered an essential look at Jason before the world decided to punch him in the face a lot.
On the whole, not the best book I've read ever, but worth the read. If nothing else, Amber Dermont has a beautiful way with language.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)