Posts Tagged ‘book review’
Saturday, June 1st, 2013
It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a book that wasn’t a YA. But a couple months ago I came across a book trailer that did what book trailers are supposed to do (but sadly don’t always succeed at :-S), which is to make me stop and go, “Oh. I really want to read that.”
And then I discovered the author, Billy Coffey, and his blog.
Maybe it’s Billy’s beautiful way of looking at (and writing about) life that got me. Or maybe it’s the fact that my grandparents were from the South, and Billy’s style reminds me of them and sitting on their porch with iced tea, talking about biscuits and gravy and fireflies.
I’m pretty certain it’s both. Which is why When Mockingbirds Sing made me smile.
Publisher’s Summary on Amazon:
Leah is a child from Away, isolated from her peers because of her stutter. But then she begins painting scenes that are epic in scope, brilliant in detail, and suffused with rich, prophetic imagery. When the event foreshadowed in the first painting dramatically comes true, the town of Mattingly takes notice.
Leah attributes her ability to foretell the future to an invisible friend she calls the Rainbow Man. Some of the townsfolk are enchanted with her. Others fear her. But there is one thing they all agree on—there is no such thing as the Rainbow Man.
Her father, the town psychologist, is falling apart over his inability to heal his daughter or fix his marriage. And the town minister is unraveled by the notion a mere child with no formal training may be hearing from God more clearly than he does.
While the town bickers over what to do with this strange child, the content of Leah’s paintings grows darker. Still, Leah insists that the Rainbow Man’s heart is pure. But then a dramatic and tragic turn of events leaves the town reeling and places everyone’s lives in danger. Now the people of Mattingly face a single choice:
Will they cling to what they know . . . or embrace the things Leah believes in that cannot be seen?
What I Loved:
- The style. Poetic. Simple. This novel’s got all the sweet richness of a book club read.
- The setting. Set in a slower-paced town with carnivals and screen doors, iced tea and humid evenings.
- The accents. OHMYGOSH the accents. Because to Californians like me, everyone else in the world has yummy accents.
- The plot. I actually had NO idea where this book was going or how it would end, which kept me thinking about it in the in-betweens when I had to break from reading.
- The interesting exploration of faith and the magic of mystery. My southern grandma was religious, my grandfather was not, and I could fully feel them in all their sweetness in this story.
- The characters and their growth. I could see a bit of myself in each of them. They’re all broken in some way, and it made them real. I also appreciated how Billy represented the elderly and Leah with her disability.
- Abbie. Particularly the kissing scene and the pool scene (I actually laughed out loud).
- The multiple points of view and the fact that the Main Character is NOT one of the point of view characters…which I found pretty brilliant.
- The Rainbow Man.
When Mockingbirds Sing Book Trailer
*book cover from Goodreads
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the book mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Friday, May 17th, 2013
Happy Weekend, Preciouses!
Okay, so there are a number of books I’ve fangirled over REPEATEDLY on this blog through the years. Annnnnd one of them is Orson Scott Card’s ENDER’S GAME.
Because it’s hands-down my favoritest sci-fi EVER.
Last week we swooned over its movie trailer.
This week, we discuss the book. :0)
In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.
Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.
Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.
What I loved:
- The pacing! It’s fantastic. Like — you can’t help but read the whole book in one sitting fantastic.
- The plot. Genius kids. Aliens. I’ll leave it at that.
- The setting. I love the familiar “future of earth” feel (versus “we’re in an entirely different galaxy” type thing). I find it more relatable, and therefore easier to sink right into.
- Ender. He reminds me of my dearly-beloved Charles Wallace in “A Wrinkle in Time.” I think it’s that whole genius intellectual thing combined with innocence of spirit. It’s endearingly vulnerable.
- Bean. (Okay, slight confession here…I’m tempted to say that the book “Ender’s Shadow” — which is Bean’s story – is actually better than “Ender’s Game.” Can I say that? Reading it made me love that boy.)
- Peter. Not sure he should be filed in the “What I loved” category because, well, he’s despicable. But like Bean, perhaps it’s the development of Peter’s storyline in future books that makes him so intriguing.
- The mock battles. Two words: Zero Gravity. HELLOOOO!!
- The ethical questions raised. Let’s face it — this book is partially about children being trained for war, which means that, alongside the action and adventure there’s a big level of uncomfortable. For me, it evokes thoughts of modern day child soldiers (although Ender’s situation is humane in comparison). And much like the Hunger Games trilogy, there’s an underlying theme woven in regarding violence and its effect on kids, as well as questions to ponder like — Do our negative actions matter even when our intentions are good? And how often do we judge others based upon our fear versus understanding?
- The ending. It moves your heart in a sad way. Which, in my opinion, is appropriate.
*note: the book contains violence, swearing, and some crudeness
Annnnnnd now we wants to know, Preciouses!!!!!! Have you read it?
What was YOUR reaction?
*book cover pic from Goodreads
Friday, February 22nd, 2013
Firstly, let me say THANK YOU to all you preciouses for your super-sweet congrats on last week’s happy dance agenty post. :0) You guys are the best!!!
Secondly, my daughter, Rilian, is back on the blog this week to give us a book review (along with generally just being her adorable self).
She just finished reading Stephenie Meyer’s book THE HOST, which is hitting theaters in movie form on March 29!
Quick Summary of THE HOST:
In the dystopian future, Earth has been taken over by alien “souls” who are using human bodies as hosts to live in while working to make the world a “better” place. A world with no fighting or anger.
A world without “humans.”
When Melanie Stryder, one of the last of Earth’s “wild” humans, gets captured, she’s made into a host for a soul named Wanderer. Except, Wanderer is quickly surprised to find out that her human isn’t willing to let go and allow her mind to vanish into oblivion. As Wanderer searches through Melanie’s thoughts to find the whereabouts of the last remaining human rebels, she discovers that Melanie is hiding things. In an effort to protect the rebels, Melanie keeps forcing up memories of the two most important things in her world—thoughts of the man she loves and also of her little brother. And soon, Wanderer finds herself feeling the same longing for them as Melanie.
As Wanderer and Melanie search through the desert for the rebels, they’re taken captive by them, and Wanderer’s affections for the humans grow. But soon she has to choose a side—become a traitor to her own alien family, or a traitor to the humans she loves.
What I Loved:
Where do I start!!!
- That the aliens took over the world to make it a better place. And I definitely like their medicines WAY better (emphasis on “WAY”) as there are NO SHOTS. See, a perfect world!
- The characters are so sweet. Jeb, with his quirky personality, and Jamie—you can’t not love him. And all the other characters who made this story exciting.
- The writing is amazing.
- The unlikely friendships between enemies.
- ALL of Wanda’s adventures before she came to earth. Oh yeah.
- Stephenie Meyer did such a good job on the story’s ending that I didn’t want to finish the book. Because it didn’t seem like it would end well. But I just had to finish it because it’s THAT good, and then it all works together so perfectly that you’ll just have to read it for yourself.
FYI note: the book has some kissing and cussing. :0)
THE HOST Movie Trailer
Okay, how about you all? Have you read it? Will you see the movie?
*THE HOST cover pic from Goodreads
Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
Yes, you can go ahead and tell me how TOTALLY behind the paranormal times I am. I mean, seriously, I’m just NOW picking this book up? Sheesh. Whatever. So, mock me however you deem appropriate (ie giggle behind your hand, throw cookies at me, buy me baby unicorns — preferably the baby unicorns), but I finally got around to reading PARANORMALCY. Over the weekend. In two sittings (it’s a cute, quick read). It left a smile on my face.
So of course I said to myself, “Self, obviously you should blog about it.”
And Myself answered, “Why yes, I think I will, you brilliant thing you.” (Myself also said some other rather flattering things about me being a good cookie maker too, but…I digress.)
Anyhow, here you go –> my review of Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy
Sixteen-year-old Evie is seriously the cutest “normal” ever. No wonder Reth the creepy faerie boy likes her, right? I mean, he’s hot (in more ways than one), and she’s well…she’s human and sassy and likes wearing spunky pink boots and watching teen drama shows and, and, and she has a MERMAID for a best friend!
Also? She owns a pink taser. Which is so very awesome and Buffy-like of her. She uses it to tag paranormals for the International Paranormal Containment Agency (IPCA) that she works for, and incidentally, lives at.
And oh yeah, she has this one-of-a-kind ability to see through any and all paranormal glamour. Like vamps? She sees old corpses with one foot in the grave. Hags? Well, they’re hags. Who EAT children! Ha! And that shapeshifter who just invaded the IPCA?
Um…hmm, he’s a tad harder to figure out. He’s also a tad more attractive. Dangit.
So now Evie’s gotta find out just why he’s all up in IPCA’s business before the supervisors make him disappear. But with the horrible murders he may or may not be a part of that are picking off her paranormal “family,” can she actually trust him to tell the truth?
Ahhh, the troubled life of a kick-butt teenager. *sigh*
Things I Liked:
- Um, hello! THERE’S A FLIPPING MERMAID!!!! Had I known this, I would’ve read the book years ago. Because (note to all YA authors everywhere) the world needs more mermaids. It’s a fact.
- The bleeping in place of swearing. Yes, the insertion of the word “bleep” for everything made me laugh. Creative and funny.
- The dialogue. Super cute and sassy. Which is how I like my sheesh-fine-I’ll-save-the-world-again, oh-squeal-he’s-really-touching-my-hand heroines. And I’ll tell you this now: there are not many books I’d keep on reading once I found out the MC nicknamed her taser weapon “Tasey.” Yeah…not my style. However, her dialogue was so cutely sarcastic, it won me over.
- The FAERIES. Mainly, but not limited to, Reth. Who totally needs his own series because I’d definitely date him. Well, you know, if I wasn’t already married to a hottie magical being of my own who does the dishes every day.
- The quirks of Evie’s personality. Here’s the thing…Evie borders very close to being the typical YA paranormal romance heroine. Except, her personality makes her adorable. Think “Clueless” meets paranormal.
- The romance. Ms. White fully excels at the whole, slow budding friendship into romance thing. And I like it. A lot. It’s realistic and carries more weight with me in the long run. That said, yes, I wanted more swoony-faced kissy moments and fan-me-while-I-pass-out tension. However, I console myself with the reasoning that the girl’s only 16 and has two more books to go, so… *waits for it*
- The shapeshifter.
- The variations of paranormal creatures. Original and curious.
- Evie’s high school locker obsession. *giggles*
“Lish [the mermaid] tried to swear–which is always funny, because the computer won’t translate it. It went something like this: “Bleep stupid bleep bleep faeries and their bleep bleep bleep obsessions. He had better stop bleep bleep bleep the bleep bleep rules or I will bleep bleep bleep the little bleeeeeeeeeeep.”
Obviously, we all need a mermaid friend in our lives.
So, what about you, preciouses? Seen a mermaid lately? And have you read the book??? Actually, I KNOW some of you have.
*cover pic from Goodreads
Wednesday, September 12th, 2012
A couple of months ago, Mariel left a comment asking me to do a review of Veronica Roth’s book DIVERGENT.
Thanks for asking, Mariel! Here you go, girl. :0)
DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth
In the dystopian future of what was once recognizable as the city of Chicago, Beatrice Prior’s Choosing Day is about to change everything. In the society she lives in, each member is separated into one of five factions based upon the character virtues they most value: Erudite (knowledge), Abnegation (selflessness), Amity (peacefulness), Dauntless (courage), and Candor (honesty). No matter which faction a person grows up in, the one they claim at age sixteen on Choosing Day will become theirs. For life. And on that day, the cost of switching from the one you were raised in means you’ll be cut off from everyone you’ve always been closest to, including your family.
When Beatrice makes a choice no one is prepared for, least of all herself, she’s thrown into an initiation process of seemingly insane recklessness and cutthroat relationships far more dangerous than anything she’s experienced. Figuring out who to trust, let alone how to survive the rigorous tests and training and the confusingly hot guy with secrets of his own, becomes the new normal.
Except “Tris” (as she quickly changes her name to) isn’t exactly cut out for ”normal” according to her Choosing Day score.
And that just might make her the most dangerous individual across all five factions, which are on the brink of war.
What I liked:
- The dystopian world. It’s wonderfully well-crafted, and Roth’s ability to reveal it to the reader while at the same time pushing full speed ahead with the story is so smooth it’s incredible. This is how it’s done, people.
- The premise. Unique and fun and intriguingly different.
- The factions. I can only imagine the amount of backstory notes and spread sheets Roth had to come up with to lay it all out.
- The slow-building, complicated-in-tiny-awkward-ways relationships. Um, hello! This was hands-down my favorite thing about Divergent: The relationships were built realistically between family, friends, boys, creepers, you name it. And I particularly loved the little insecurities thrown in throughout. Also, I can’t remember the last book I read in which there WASN’T a love triangle.
- The voice. Okay, don’t hate me (ducks before your laser-like angry eyes find me), but my friends will tell you that I wasn’t initially fully sold on Divergent (looks to see if any rabid Divergent fans are waiting to stab me in the back). And my issue had to do with the voice. It’s totally a selfish, personal preference thing that, when I read a dystopian, I prefer the voice to be all whimsical and (yes, I’m going to say it) somewhat flowery to offset the bleakness of the society. For me, the contrast between the two brings a richness all its own to the text (which, as you’ll recall, is what I particularly loved about DeStefano’s WITHER). So whenever I pick up a dystopian where the voice is so straightforward…it gives me pause. (Please don’t throw things at me – yes, I’m a dork.) HOWEVER, in Divergent I think the straightforward non-flowery style TOTALLY works. Particularly seeing as Tris has been raised in a faction that doesn’t value showiness or personal “floweriness” (yep, made that up) in any way. Her simple, clear-cut voice not only matches her character perfectly, it also lends really well to the action (which there’s tons of). And along those lines, the writing style combined with said action sets this book out as one of the few YAs I’ve read that guys and girls will enjoy EQUALLY. Which is unbelievably impressive.
- The action. So. Much. Of it. With such good pacing. Also, while there’s violence (especially towards the end), it’s obvious why it’s there.
- The Fear Landscape!!!
- The mom. If you’ve read it, you’ll understand what I’m sayin’.
- And on that note, I love that this is a YA in which (a) the parents actually exist and (b) they function and care. THANK YOU.
- Oh, and the tattoos. *grin*
Okay, so what about you, Preciouses?
Have you read it? What’d you think?
And do you have a dystopian to recommend?
And on an awesome random side note to my writer, teen writer, and/or book blogging friends: The Central Coast Writers’ Conference is next weekend, Sept. 21 & 22, and they’ve still got signup spots available! If you’re anywhere near San Luis Obispo (aka the Happiest City in America according to Oprah), you should totally attend. Not only do they have great classes (and an amazing track for teens), but you get to hang out with other writers, authors (Robin Mellom, Jack Grapes & Barbara Hodges, anyone?), agents (Jill Corcoran, Laurie McLean & Pam van Hylckama Vlieg), and book blogging goddesses Danielle Smith (@the1stdaughter – who also happens to be my lovely friend), Pam van Hylckama Vlieg (@BookaliciousPam), and Amy Riley (@myfriendamy). In fact those three ladies will be doing a book blogger panel (which I had the honor of being asked to moderate but alas I’ll be out of town)!!! If you’re interested in attending, you can check it all out at this Central Coast Writers’ Conference link!
Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
So, I have another book recommendation for you, preciouses. But this one comes with a confession:
*looks guiltily at the floor* Ahem. Um . . . I started out bothered at this book. Like REEEEALLY confused by it. In fact, at one point a few chapters in, I set it down, saying, “Seriously? What kind of YA is this? The writing’s gorgeous but where’s all the action?”
“It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.” – Maggie Stiefvater
Somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean sits the tiny island of Thisby. Wild, salt-swept, and surrounded by a frothy sea from which huge, beautiful, flesh-eating water horses (called “capaill uisce”) periodically clamor onto the shore in search of meat. Meat which is often found in the form of men along the beach who’ve come out to capture the majestic animals for the Scorpio Races.
Every November, mainland tourists converge upon Thisby to watch her men ride the capaill uisce in the seaside races. And every November they watch a few of the island men die, attacked in a split second of distraction, or drowned when the siren’s call of the water becomes too great and the horses drag their riders beneath the waves.
Puck Connelly has spent her whole life on the island, scrounging to get by with her two brothers after their parents were killed by one of the capaill uisce. When the oldest and most financially supportive sibling decides he’s no longer cut out for the raw, harsh life of the island, Puck’s only means of keeping him longer and saving their about-to-be-foreclosed-upon cottage is to enter the deadly Scorpio Race. She is the first female to do so, and she’ll do it on her own little island mare, Dove.
However, the man to beat is hardly older than herself. Stoic, silent, and the Races’ reigning champion, Sean lives, loves, and breathes water horses. This year, when he wins, he’ll have the chance to gain his freedom and purchase the only family he knows—his capaill uisce, Cor, who once belonged to his now-deceased father.
But as Puck and Sean train for the races, a friendship begins to bloom between them. And from friendship, the possibility of love. Which wouldn’t be a problem except that neither of them can afford to let the other win in the race.
WHAT I LOVED:
- That the book is unlike the average YA novel. It’s slow. It’s sweet. It’s sultry in a raw, atmospheric, salt-tarnished, blood-stained, running, breathing, pulsing through the very heartbeat of nature sort of way.
- The Irish-flavored villagers. They remind me of the folk in the movie “Waking Ned Devine.” They are more subjects of their island — of her moods and whims — living life as part of her landscape, lending their stories to the stormy romance between her and the sea.
- The boiling, frothing, storm-inflicted ocean churning up its water horses and then calling them back.
- The prose. It is SO what Maggie Stiefvater is known for. Her absolute pure perfect poetry. In this case, THE SCORPIO RACES is poetry about life in all of its elements.
- The characters. Puck and Sean are wonderfully well-developed, headstrong, and easy to adore.
- The unique twist on the YA supernatural genre. Water horses? Freaking brilliant.
- The romance. Subtle and slow and reminiscent of childhood.
One should read this story while tucked beside a cozy fire on an autumn eve. When the air’s too cold and the wind too loud and the day too harsh to bear repeating. In those few hours, the tired spirit will find respite and a borrowed sense of falling into bed having tasted the salted air and sweat and blood given for the sake of loving a world that is wildly dangerous and beautiful.
And that’s pretty much all I have to say on the subject.
What do YOU think, preciouses? Have you read it?
*Cover pic from Goodreads
Wednesday, July 4th, 2012
Oh you guys.
*hugs book tightly and sighs* I LOVED this one.
So. Very. Much.
Mysterious Lunar people watch from the moon as Earth’s inhabitants battle a deadly plague. The Lunar queen is waiting for her chance to strike, if not through the heart then at least through the throne of Prince Kai.
On Earth, Linh Cinder, a brilliant mechanic, lives in Prince Kai’s Eastern Commonwealth city of New Beijing. As a cyborg and second-class citizen, her work financially provides for her embittered stepmother and stepsisters as well as (hopefully) a little extra to purchase newer metal parts for her cyborg body — such as a much-needed leg. When a chance encounter in the marketplace sends the Prince and Cinder’s worlds colliding, they find themselves facing an onslaught of feelings, disease experimentation, power plays and political intrigue far beyond what either of them are prepared for.
All of which revolve around Cinder’s hidden past.
And the Prince’s very public future.
WHAT I LOVED:
- Um, let’s see…you mean besides the fact that this is Cinderella as a CYBORG living in a futuristic plague-ravaged world with a hot prince on whom the entire survival of the human race is politically dependent?
- The third-person point of view, which rotates (lightly) throughout the story. So much YA is written in the first person (which I am completely and unabashedly partial to), that it’s refreshing to read a great, well done third-person narrative in the genre.
- The New Beijing and Lunar colonies, which are incredibly cool. This book is a fabulous example of creative world building. As a reader, I was engrossed and wanted to explore more (which could be either frustrating or a good thing).
- The characters. Thank you, Ms. Meyer for creating characters who are believable, intellectual and hard working (versus accidentally awesome because of some newly discovered ability), useful for something beyond brooding and good looks, and not obligated to fall madly into make-out-obsessed-love in the first five pages just because they’re stuck in a story together. Oh, and Iko rocked.
- Prince Kai in his hoodie sweatshirt. To say that Kai is totally hot in that casual, Ryan Gosling “Hey girl, I’m a prince but I’m really just a guy needing a girl to share my inner feelings with” kind of way might be an understatement. *sigh*
- The creepy cultish Lunars.
- Queen Levana. She is So. Deliciously. Evil. With her magical charms and use of glimmer.
- The ending. Not the happily-ever-after ending we’ve all come to know and expect. Which both infuriated and thrilled me all at once. Ergh. Second book please.
WHAT I CANNOT FREAKING WAIT FOR:
- The next 3 books in the series: Scarlet (Little Red Riding Hood), Cress (Rapunzel), and Winter (Snow White).
- More YA sci-fi books. Yes, CINDER is technically a sci-fi/dystopian mix (blended oh-so-nicely), but mark my words: Sci-fi is the next YA genre on the horizon.
- For Joss Whedon to make CINDER into a movie. Oh wait…he’s never thought of doing that? Well, he should. Because I would watch it. Again and again.
**Post update: Check out USA Today’s cover reveal for SCARLET (2nd in the series) along with an excerpt from chapter 2 and an interview with Marissa Meyer!
Wednesday, April 11th, 2012
ALL THE PRETTY HORSES is the first Cormac McCarthy book I’ve ever read–yeah, yeah, don’t throw things at me–and I spent the first three pages of it going, “What the aardvark? Who does this guy think he is? I have NO idea what’s going on in this scene.”
I spent the entire rest of the novel going, “Oh. That’s who he thinks he is. He’s a freaking genius.”
And I’m tempted to end my review right there.
Alas, I won’t. But consider yourselves warned. THINGS CAN ONLY DIGRESS.
If the second of my brothers had been written into a novel, he would’ve been something akin to ALL THE PRETTY HORSES’ main character, John Grady. In fact, come to think of it, Grady probably could’ve been any one of my brothers. Growing up with four them (and a little sister who insisted she was THE actual little Ariel singing mermaid), I spent a good many years of my life eating and breathing anything and everything to do with cowboys, whether I wanted to or not. My days were a balance of playing cowboys and building forts and watching EVERY SINGLE John Wayne movie in existence while still trying to prove my inherent “coolness” to my friends with my ability to master Aerosmith songs and the biggest 90’s hair possible.
Okay, so maybe growing big hair wasn’t so hard, but perming it to frizz like electro-charged shrubbery? That took serious talent, people.
Case in point:
So when I say I loved the book, keep THAT in mind (er…my days spent playing cowboys with my little brothers–not the disturbingly big hair pic).
The PRETTY HORSES story begins with sixteen-year-old John Grady grieving the passing of his grandfather (in the stoic way teenage cowboy guys tend to grieve such things). With his parents having divorced years before and no one left to run the Texas ranch but Grady, his mother decides to sell the home he loves so dearly. Thus, on a “coming of age” whim, Grady and his friend, Rawlins, set off on horseback to cross the Rio Grande into Mexico. Along the way, they’re joined by the ridiculous Jimmy Blevins, and, in-between meandering conversations on religion and philosophy, they encounter a world of adventure and heartache in the form of bandits, crazy storms, stolen horses, a Mexican prison, and a short love affair with a rich Spaniard’s daughter. The story is raw and real—so much so that you can taste it for days to come once you’ve reached the emotionally-exhausting (and not necessarily happily-ever-after) ending. Just like a good cowboy book should be, in my experience.
What I liked:
- The landscape as character. You guys know I love this in books. When the world is living, biting, breathing down the neck of our protagonist. In this case, the landscape is as thickly a developed character as Grady or Rawlins. And it works. And it’s beautiful.
- The prose. With each one, McCarthy breaks convention beyond sanity (no quotation marks, scarce punctuation, etc.), but again it works. In fact, not only does it work–it’s rhythm. It’s musical. It’s poetry. In a story my brothers’ would label as “totally manly,” no less.
- John Grady. One reviewer referred to him as “endearing,” and I find that to be the perfect description. He’s like an old, well-versed man in a teen’s body. And while I’ve heard that some might find his level of maturity implausible for his age…those people have not met my little brother, Jon.
(By the way… Jonathan, I’m totally tempted to show off pics right here of you being all cute in your little man cowboy boots at the age of four…but…I refrain. You owe me, dude.)
Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
My first book review in 2012 is of the last novel I read in 2011. It was also the most beautifully written novel I read in 2011….
SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi
Juliette has been locked away in 144 square feet of isolated space for 264 days. She sits. She counts. She writes on private pages, with a pen, in her secret notebook. She tries to keep herself from going insane in an asylum where she was incarcerated in order to protect her parents and society. A society devastated by pollution, wars, and population control, newly-presided over by a totalitarian regime—The Reestablishment. And while Juliette thinks she’s been locked up because of her dangerous “disease,” The Reestablishment has plans for her. They’re about to use her as a weapon of power. A weapon that can kill with one single touch.
Juliette has not been touched in 6,336 hours.
Until a boy enters her 144 square foot space of aloneness and single-handedly shatters her world into one million breathtaking pieces.
What I liked:
- The Writing. Between penning unbelievably beautiful prose, breaking a host of grammar rules, and employing gorgeous metaphors, Ms. Mafi has created some of the most exquisite passages I’ve ever read. As a writerly type person, I have a habit of dog-earing pages (yes, I dog-ear—don’t hate me) that contain a phrase or simile I wish I’d written. In the case of “Shatter Me,” roughly ¼ of my copy is dog-eared. No joke.
- Mafi’s use of strikethrough strikeout (<– yes, that thing), which is applied quite heavily early on in the novel, then lessens as the story progresses. Not only is it unique (in the book world) but it’s effective at showing the gradual growth of Juliette from a self-doubting, emotionally-interned girl to an individual discovering freedom and power. Love it.
- The protagonist, Juliette. She’s a beautiful balance of sweet vulnerability and a passionate conduit for power. She’s frank. She’s timid. She’s healthy. She’s broken. Oh, and the numbers thing… Juliette counts everything.
- The use of landscape as a character. The world surrounding Juliette’s cell is a heartbreaking reflection of her core. Stark. Slightly insane. Starving. Devastated by self-inflicted horror. Mafi’s use of the dystopian setting and bleak landscape to highlight Juliette’s emotional brokenness makes us love our heroine more.
- The superhero conflict. Juliette holds the power to do good and also harm, both of which tempt her in their own ways.
- The villain, Warner. So intriguing. So yummy. So creepy.
- James. Perfectly precious.
- The fact that the book has the dystopian feel of Lauren DeStefano’s “Wither” blended with the powers (and outfits) of X-men.
- The ignition of Juliette’s emotions in proximity to being touched. Left without physical contact, she’s wilting. With it, she’s a lighting rod. Very psychological. And, from a writerly perspective, it’s an excellent way to build sexual tension. Speaking of creating sexual tension, Mafi writes some incredibly sexy scenes without the main couple ever actually consummating anything (although they try too, which is why I’d agree with another reviewer who said she’d recommend this book to older teens on up).
Um…did I mention I LOVED it?
How about you, Preciouses? Have you read it? Thoughts??? ;0)
Wednesday, December 14th, 2011
You know when you see a book from a room-width away and KNOW it’s a going to be a good one? Like you can taste the quality? Yes. THAT. Well, that’s exactly how it happened with Jessica Day George’s TUESDAYS AT THE CASTLE. I was furtively eyeing it on the Barnes and Noble Children’s shelf (while pretending to browse the Classic Literature section like any nerd who takes her book snobbery seriously) during a recent coffee date with the Husband. The book sang my name and I answered. I read the back cover, followed by the quaintly written first page, and then carried it to the Husband with the comment that, “This is written as a classic. Our children need it.”
Being my husband, he sweetly just nodded and tried to conceal the look on his face that said, “Uh-huh. Our CHILDREN need it? Riiiight.” So, of course, we bought the book. And I read it to our cute children, who loved it (so much so that one of them promptly reread it).
And they are here today to review it for you.
(as reviewed by Rilian, Avalon, and Korbin)
Our Summary: Castle Glower is full of fun personality, especially on Tuesdays when it decides to grow another room or secret passageway. Eleven-year-old Princess Celie, daughter of King Glower the seventy-ninth, likes to explore the changes and add them to her atlas. When Celie’s parents go missing and some unwanted visitors try to take over Castle Glower, Celie and her brother and sister must defend the Castle at all costs until they discover what has happened to their parents and older brother, Bran.
What We Liked:
- “I liked everything, especially when the girls are in the tower.” (Korbin, age 6)
- “My favorite parts in the book were the pranks.” (Avalon, age 9)
- “Mine too!” (Rilian, age 12) “I thought the author wrote the story so well—the excitement kept up the whole way through.”
- “Yeah, I thought the book was exciting and fun and full of action! And I loved Castle Glower, especially how Celie could talk to it and it would do stuff. I like that it had feelings.” (Avalon, age 9)
- “I loved that the castle was alive too. That made it so much cooler than if they’d just lived in a regular old castle.” (Rilian, age 12)
- “My favorite room in Castle Glower is the throne room.” (Korbin, age 6)
- “My favorite character was Celie.” (Avalon, age 9) “I loved her relationship with the castle. I also liked her and Rolf’s relationship.”
- “My favorite character was Prince Lulath. He’s so humorous, and his accent makes it even better. Oh, and his affection for his dogs. I liked Lulath’s dogs.” (Rilian, age 12)
- “My favorite part is when the dog pees.” (Korbin, age 6)
So, basically, we’d recommend it. ;0)
And now Dear Readers, we’d like to know: What was YOUR favorite book as a child?
What’s the mood noise of the moment? Sarah Mclachlan: Happy Christmas
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