I love books! And film. And TV.
This book was so wonderful! It was funny, imaginative, occasionally heart breaking, occasionally heart fluttering and most importantly, very real and honest. I seriously had tears falling down my face when I finished with it because I knew that I had just found one of my favorite books of all time.
Cath is a freshman in college, an English major with a love for fantasy stories and fictional characters. She is a Simon Snow fan (Simon Snow, Rowell's fictional book series, is kind of like Harry Potter, a story about magic, good and evil and people with magical powers in a boarding school type of setting) - she had read the books several times, she has seen the movies, and most importantly, she has created stories for the Simon Snow characters on her own, making her one of the most read Simon Snow fanfiction writers. Being a fan is a way of life for her - she lives and breaths for Simon and his magical world.
Fangirling used to be an activity Cath exercised with her twin sister Wren, but once they get to college in Lincoln, Nebraska, Cath quickly realizes Wren's interest in Simon is fleeting - she is much more interested about socializing with her new school mates, attending parties and hooking up with boys. Unfortunately, Cath cannot let go. Simon is a part of her, a part she does not want to lose, a part that defines her. Not only is Cath losing her fangirling buddy, she is also losing the roommate she thought she would have - Wren has decided it would be better if they lived separately and Cath is left with a roommate she does not know, a roommate so completely different than herself that at first she feels like she does not fit in at all. And then there's Levi, her roommates boyfriend who keeps hanging around at their room, making Cath tell things about herself she did not imagine she would share with someone... especially not with a boy.
With a fiction writing class that is not going at all like she planned and a problematic father back in Omaha, Cath is not sure she can balance all the newness and still be herself and the girl she used to be.
Words cannot express how much I loved Cath. She is funny, artistic, creative, sarcastic and just so true to herself. But she is not perfect either - she might judge things and people too fast, and she might not be the best communicator out there. The way Rowell has build Cath is amazing - she is a well-rounded, interesting character who develops throughout the narrative in very realistic, multi-dimensional ways. And then there's Levi - he is not the regular-type of handsome, I guess, but there is something in him that makes him so dreamy and desirable and swoon worthy. The relationships between the characters, especially between Cath and Levi, are so well built - they take their time and they have their ups and downs.
There are not many characters I have identified with as much as I identified with Cath. I was a university freshman three years ago and I feel like much of Cath's thoughts and actions matched mine. I hate parties and socializing has always been difficult for me - I don't know how to be "cool" and how to talk to people in party-type situations. I rather stayed in my room, read and watched a film, occasionally even wrote something. I am still very much like I was three years ago, but like Cath, I hope I have grown at least a little bit. I admired Cath's passion for what she loved - I feel like what Simon was for Cath, film is for me (I'm a film student). For her being a fangirl is a way of life, something she is good at. And though I don't like to compliment myself too often, I can honestly say I am pretty good at being a fangirl too.
I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of Before I Fall back in the day (I can't believe how long ago that actually was... it feels like tomorrow). I read the first book of the Deliriumtrilogy when it was released, and actually quite liked it, but I feel like I'm really bad with keeping up with series, so I still haven't read the 2nd and 3rd book in the trilogy. When I heard that Oliver is working on a new contemporary novel, I got really excited, becauseBefore I Fall was so GOOD. Panic, a story centering around a summer tradition in a small New York town is that book, and wow, it was pretty good!
Heather lives in Carp, a small New York town where nothing really happens. Except Panic - a town tradition for the graduating high school class. The day after the graduation, the students who want to participate attend the jump, the starting of a summer-long chain of challenge, each more dangerous and extreme than their predecessor. With a sizable price money in the horizon for the winner, Panic has become popular among the youth - despite the past casualties and the danger, the graduates are willing to fight for the money - and the change that it would give to leave Carp.
Heather is an interesting character and it was a delight to get to know her through Oliver's writing - she is strong and independent, but also has her weak spot - a guy she thought she loved and who now is with someone else. Seeing him with another girl pushes her to the edge - and right into the challenge. With a good-for-nothing mother and a little sister she wants to protect, Heather starts to understand that the money she could win from Panic would help them to start again.
In his mind, Dodge is the perfect competitor for Panic because he does not fear anything. What motivates him to participate is a wish for revenge, a wish to punish someone for what they have done. But as the challenge goes on, Dodge realizes he might not be as invincible as he thought. And when feelings and safety of people he cares about get involved, he realizes he might have to slow down.
Oliver's Panic is a well-written, entertaining young adult novel that deals with the issues and problems of growing up, trusting yourself and people around you, and of taking risks, both in friendships and in love. The novel is beautifully written and the characters are interesting and rounded - they are not perfect, but they are trying their best. If you liked Before I Fall, you'll probably like this one as well.
I find it very hard to write reviews about books that are sequels to series just because I cannot expect that everyone has read the first book(s) and thus I do not want to spoil anything for ones who might have to read the first book at some point. But I will try my best with this one.
So in Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, Mara and her family move from Rhode Island to Florida after Mara is the only survivor from an accident at an old asylum - Mara's best friend Rachel, her friend Claire and her boyfriend Jude died. When they reach Florida Mara starts to see things that she cannot explain. When she meets Noah, a super hot and rich guy with a British accent, she is afraid that her issues will make their relationship difficult. But then she learns that Noah also has a secret and that they might not be quite similar as the people around them. The book ends with suspense as Mara thinks she sees someone who is supposed to be death.
The Evolution of Mara Dyer opens up with Mara in a hospital. When she tells that she has seen Jude, the guy who is supposed to be death, no one believes her. Except Noah. The perfect, handsome, charming Noah. Mara knows that if she cannot pretend to be somewhat normal, her family will ship her to mental institution. Thus she decides to keep her issues to herself and she is enrolled to an outpatient program at a mental institution - this means she can still live at home and spend time with Noah, the only one who actually believes her. But as the attacks from Jude get more and more intense, it gets difficult for Mara to pretend that everything is okay. And the relationship with Noah is not only sunshines and puppies either because of the fact that Mara is afraid that if they get too intense, she might hurt Noah. And Noah is the last person she would ever want to hurt.
I feel like it took me a while to get through maybe the first 60% of the novel. This was mostly due to the fact that I did not really remember perfectly all the events from the first book and kind of had to go back to check on some things. But wow, the last 40% were so exciting and action packed and full of surprises. The ending took me completely by surprise - I would never have expected that kind of plot twist. It feels impossible that I have to wait til March 2014 for the next book.
Like in the first novel, Mara is likable, but a lot darker than in the first book. More and more issues are piling on her and once again you really do not know at points can you trust her or not. Noah, of course, is perfect, so I won't say much about him. I know for some the relationship between these two might be kind of cliche - he is ready to pay for her protection etc. and I must admit I somewhat got Edward Cullen vibes from him at points (I think it is just the rich, sulking, protectiveness). But unlike Bella, Mara is strong and independent, and thus their relationship is not that one-sided.
I really loved the fact that in this book we got more information about Mara's family, especially her mother and grandmother, who's point of view is offered in this novel. The connection between Mara and her grandmother is not fully explained yet, and it is something I am definitely looking forward from the next book. I also have a soft spot for Daniel, Mara's big brother, and hope that there will be more about him on the next book.
When I wrote the review for the first book I criticized the some what paranormal element of the first book (meaning the powers) and hoped that it would be explained in the second book. AND IT WAS. And wow.... this is the plot twist I am talking about. I cannot wait to see who Hodkin extents this whole issue.
I really enjoyed The Evolution of Mara Dyer and really cannot wait to see how the story processes.
I usually tend to avoid books that deal with suicide for two reasons; as a person who has gone through (and will keep going through with it for the rest of my life) the suicide of someone close to me, books like this always bring up memories and feelings I try to bury as deep as possible. The second reason is that I always feel like these books are not very realistic portrayals of the type of grief that really cannot be even described in words. I feel like you almost have to have gone through the pain through yourself to fully understand it. I don't know what is the case with Harrington, but she really was able to hit close with this one.
Harper's big sister June has committed suicide. Harper was the one who found her. Always the "second" best to her divorced parents, she is now the only one left. When her divorced parents decide to divide June's ashes between themselves, Harper makes a drastic move and "steals" the urn in order to spread her sister's ashes to California, the place June always dreamed about. With the company of her best friend Laney, who is fighting a fight with her own issues, and mysterious Jake music lover Jake, Harper embarks on a journey to get some type of closure to both herself and June.
It took me quite a while to get into this book. It was not because it was bad, not at all. It was just because it was so emotional and hit so close to home. I really liked Harper - she is strong, but also extremely confused. She does not really know how to handle her grief and thus for half the time she feels more angry than sad. I was able to relate with Harper - she wants answers, but at the same time she is scared to face the truth. She blames herself even though she deep down knows that there probably was nothing she could have done. She hopes that she would have said something or known that her sister was so sad.
What I also really liked was the fact that there never are really any complete reasons given to why June killed herself. In some of the books I have read about suicide the reasons have been so concrete and in some ways so carefully constructed that they don't really feel very realistic. June killed herself because she was sad - why she was sad is never fully explained. The type of sadness and desperation that a person must feel in order to actually commit suicide must be something that cannot be fully explained - it might be one big thing, or a combination of small things that just start to feel too heavy and eventually there is no other way out. Some say that suicide is one of the most selfish things a person can ever do, and I completely agree with that. But in some sick, twisted way suicide is also one of the bravest things you can do - the result hurts the people you leave behind, but it probably also gives some closure.
The relationship between Harper and Jake develops slowly, which I really liked because of the fact that it shows that Harper has other things in her mind that just how gorgeous Jake is. He knew June, probably in a different way than Harper, but he gets the sadness and the feel of loss. Sometimes people have the need to compare who is the saddest and whose grief is the largest. In my family my grandmother is always the one who at the moment of loss says to be the one who is the saddest and who has lost the most. But how can we really measure grief? Of course the loss of a child most probably is the hardest on the parents. But what about the loss of a friend? Is your grief smaller if you are not related? Can you grief for someone you did not personally know? I feel like this book really digs into that issue, discussing the different levels of grief people feel as well as the ways they cope with them. Everyone copes differently and talk about it in different ways, but in the end, the source of the grief is the same.
Even though Saving June might sound like a perfect summer read, I would not recommend it as a book for the beach or holiday. It truly is sad and I at least found myself crying during the final couple of chapters. It has an element of romance on it, but it is not one of those stories with instalove and several romantic moments many readers want to read during the summer. The love in this book hurts, but it also helps the characters grow and become stronger. It is a story about the anger you feel after losing someone, the want to die, but also the want to keep going even though it hurts. It also opens your eyes to a grief that I hope not many have to go through during their lifetime - all death is sad, of course, but personally to me suicide has always been the saddest way to die because the one who died must have been so completely alone that he/she did not see any other option than to leave.
The reasons for me reading this book were the following:
1. There was a copy of it on our bookshelf
2. I wanted something fast to read
3. I remember Iina saying that she quite enjoyed it
4. After talking with Iina again about it she said that it was fast and good read.
When beginning to read this book I did not really know what to expect. The description is quite vague and the only thing I knew was the fact there is some type of chance to the humanity. Basically the situation is the following: old audio tapes recorded by a boy called Kyle Straker are found. These tapes are an account of events that took place in a very ordinary day in an English village. An innocent talent show hypnosis experiment turns into something quite unexpected when Kyle, a girl his called Lilly and two adults, Kate and Mr. Peterson notice that they are the only "normal" ones left in the village. The others are first literally frozen to the position they were in during the hypnosis. Later on they become almost hostile and it seems that they are a lot different from Kyle and his posse.
It is quite hard to write this review without spoiling the story and the essentials, but I will try. The text in the book is framed as an edited account of the tapes - there are three tapes on which Kyle explains what happened and how he felt about it etc. The idea for this book is something I have never encountered before, which made it an interesting and enjoyable read. The writing is good and fast-paced and the story is at points maybe even too edited in the sense that I would have liked to get more details about the happenings. Since the story is only from the point of view of Kyle some of the feelings of the other characters are not very clear - they are only descriptions of how Kyle sees the characters reacting to the change.
There are these very interesting annotations in the text added by the "editor" which explain some of the things discussed to the "futuristic" audience the book is indented for - it is a history book for the people who were not there to witness the humanity as we see it today.
Since the book is quite short, there were some instances in which the characters rushed to certain conclusions without really thinking about them too much. For example the whole "this must be an alien invasion" thing was a bit rushed, even though the whole situation for sure was absurd. I almost hoped that this book would be an adult science fiction book rather than a young adult one because I feel like in an adult book there might have been more detail to this interesting world Lancaster has created. But all and all, I really liked this book and would love to read the sequel at some point.
(Was I the only one who found the font on the paperback copy annoying?)
My expectations for this book were pretty high due to the fact that it has been on my TBR pile since it was published and it seems that everyone I trust when it comes to book recommendations have at least liked it, if not even loved it. I have not read that many contemporaries this year to be honest, but I am happy I finally picked this one up because it really made me want to read more of books of its type.
It was so incredibly easy to identify with Bianca. I guess I never really shared that much with people in my "group" in high school - I hated parties, I hated all the guys that I had to go to school with and I just couldn't get excited over the same things they did. The only thing we shared was the school stuff and now that high school is over, there really isn't anything that still connects me to them. Bianca has a couple of good friends, but she has always felt like she is somewhat the outsider. When the school douche Wesley calls her The Duff, the designated ugly fat friend of her group, she starts to feel even more conscious about her position in her group of friends.
Bianca is also extremely cynical and sarcastic, which I loved, because that is also so me in some sense. I am extremely pessimistic and always think of the "worst possible" solution for different things and events. I know that drives people crazy sometimes. So does Bianca. She is also a bit of a control freak, which was something I was able to identify with as well. Bianca might seem like a bitch sometimes, but there are things going on in her life she is not ready to talk about with anyone. She is not the touchy-feely sharing type her friends are. And I loved that about her.
At the beginning I felt like Wesley was a total ass. But I guess that was the point. He is handsome and funny, but also over confident which drives me crazy in guys. Confidence is a good thing, but I think you never should be too sure of yourself. But as Bianca and Wesley spend time together they start to notice that they actually have a lot of similarities. But can Bianca ever forgive the guy who labeled her as The Duff?
I really enjoyed Keplinger's writing style. It is not anything super special, but it is easy to follow and the characters she creates are funny and you really start to feel for them, especially for Bianca and Wesley. Bianca might be almost unlikable at points (I think this was also due to the fact that sometimes I was able to identify with her TOO MUCH and felt like a complete bitch myself as well) but she really grows as a person throughout the story and realizes that sometimes good things can happen to a person who never expects them to happen. Her family situation adds another level to the story making it not only a book about high school problems, but also about how problems at home shape you as a person.
The Duff is not one of those super fluffy everything is perfect -type of contemporary reads. It might make you feel uncomfortable because of the fact that Bianca uses people to feel better. There is also sex, so if that usually makes you squeamish, maybe this is not the best one for you. The characters are not perfect and they make bad decisions and decisions that only benefit themselves - that might make them unlikable, but at the same time they make them extremely realistic. Like Bianca realizes, no one us are perfect.
The Duff is a quick, funny read despite the issues that it deals with. There is no instalove, which I know a lot of readers hate, and the relationships that take place might not be the most loving ones, at least not at the beginning. But if you are looking for something a bit different to read, the Duff is definitely a potential pick.
This woman is like my queen right now. She is funny, does not take herself too seriously, gorgeous and has worked on some shows I love and with people I adore. What is not to like? I knew I would like this book even before starting to read it, and once I started reading, I read the whole thing very fast. It is interesting, funny and full of great content and after finishing with it (and already while reading it) you wish Mindy would be your friend.
The book is mostly just essays, lists and random thoughts about different things. There are account from her childhood - how she was bullied about her weight, how she fell in love with comedy. I think one of the most interesting parts was when she discussed life after college - she had rocked college, meaning that she had friends and she did well. But when she graduated, it was hard to actually find a job and do what she wanted to do with her life.
I love The Office, and that is what I, like most people, associate Mindy Kaling with. It was interesting to read how she got involved with the show and ended up writing some of the best episodes of the whole show (I am talking about Injury here... every Office fan probably remembers this episode with warmth). It is amazing to read about the people she worked with (Rainn Wilson, Seth Myers, for god's sake) but I am also happy she did not go into too much detail about these since this book is about her, not the hot guys she has worked with (that list is enormous). I also love the fact that she does not overly glamorize her life - she talks about eating a lot, hanging out in sweatpants in her bed writing and ditching parties a lot.
According to Hollywood standards, Mindy Kaling is almost overweight. But according to everything else, she is pretty much the average American woman. In the book she discusses her weight in very humorist manner, which I really liked because the fact that even though she does care about her weight, there are things she cares about more.
I love the fact that she decided to discuss some of her favorite films, comedians and comedy moments in this book, because I am always interested to watch something I admire loves. She discusses her love of romantic comedies (there is a hilarious chapter in the book in which she talks about the different romantic comedy cliches), her favorite comedy moments of all time (a lot of Will Ferrell) and for example some film franchises she would love to reboot.
After reading this book I realized how much of the actual Mindy Kaling there is in her character in The Mindy Project. Mindy from The Mindy Project is maybe a bit more superficial and has a different job, but I think the essentials are kind of same. I can't wait to see what Mindy comes up next - I am anxiously waiting for the season 2 of The Mindy Project, especially after hearing that James Franco will be on the first two episodes. And Mindy and Danny so needs to happen already.
If you are a fan of The Office or The Mindy Project, or Mindy Kaling in general, you will probably like this one as much as I did. I really want to be Mindy's friend now and hang out with her and Ellie Kemper and B.J. Novak and her frenemy Rainn Wilson.
Okay, my expectations for this book were extremely low. Just look at the cover - the guy is just chilling and it looks like he is approvingly looking at his own crotch or the boobs of the girl under him. And the girl, of course, is in complete ecstasy because the guy is a total hunk and a sex-machine. I really though this would be one of those novels were the characters meet and after a short conversation they go and have sex. And then they fight and have some more sex. The premise for the novel kind of sounds like that. So when I realized that the story was not what I expected it to be, I was POSITIVELY surprised.
Bliss is 22, almost done with college and still a virgin. She thinks it is a big deal (and I guess it somewhat is in the modern world) and she wants to get rid of her virginity before she graduates and enters the "real world". When her friend takes her out to meet up with guys, she meets Garrick. He is sitting in the bar, reading Shakespeare. And then he starts to talk and he has a British accent. I WAS SOLD. He was described to have blond hair, a bit of scruff and that accent.... It is no surprise that this is the first man that came to my mind, especially because of the Shakespeare thing.
Bliss and Gerrick end up going to Bliss's place and things star to get hot. But then Bliss completely freaks out and comes up with an excuse to stop the whole thing - there is no way that she will tell Gerrick that she is still a virgin. (It is seriously hard to write this review with that gif staring at me). Bliss expected never to meet Gerrick again, but she is up for a surprise when she goes to her college class the next morning... Gerrick there. AND HE IS HER NEW TEACHER.
I loved the whole drama/theatre student aspect of the novel. I am a theatre student myself so I guess I was somewhat able to identify with Bliss and the other characters. I really liked Bliss though I never really understood how she is "awkward". I guess she is a bit of a control freak, but when I think about the word "awkward" I pretty much think of someone who does not really fit in and who, despite belonging to a group, stands out some way. I could describe Bliss even as a popular, and I guess the only awkwardness in her is the fact that she is virgin - but I don't think that is that awkward either. But all in all, I found her pretty likable and I enjoyed the moments between her and Gerrick. Also, I want to point out that Gerrick is NORMAL. I mean this in the sense that he is just a normal guy who likes a girl. He was not used as an ashtray when he was young. He has no mommy issues. He does not beat Bliss up. He does not have a room for weird sex games.
There were some cliche moments in Losing It, but I feel like those are extremely hard to avoid these days because so many of this type of novels come out yearly. The cliches were not too dominant though and I feel like they just added some "cuteness" to the story. This is definitely one of those novels you want to read just to make yourself smile and drool over a hot guy. Since this is a new adult book, there is some sex involved, but it was not as explicit as I expected. And the sexual content was hot yes, but not weird or kinky or anything like that (when someone takes a whip out or something in these type of books I just lose my shit and start laughing and usually stop reading because I just find reading about those type of situations ridiculous). So no whips and stuff in this one. And the ending.... IT IS PERFECT!
I think I will read the second book Cora Carmack has written with the same set of characters at some point- it is about Bliss's best friend who used to have feelings for Bliss. So it is about Cade, who is introduced in this book, but there apparently are also some appearances by Bliss and Gerrick.
I recommend this to everyone over the age of 17-18 (I guess) who wants a quick, cute read with some hot stuff added to the mix. I still can't get over the fact that this is Gerrick in my mind at the moment:
Star Wars and William Shakespeare together? COUNT ME IN!
Ian Doescher has done something that should have been done years ago (maybe someone has done it before, but this is the first time I have come across it). The film, Star Wars is familiar to us all, usually even to people who have not seen the film. And of course, everyone should know who Shakespeare is. I will just say that Star Wars in awesome and not go into further analysis of the story itself.
Loyal to the style of Shakespeare and his plays, the story is told in iambic pentameter, thus making the dialogue of the original movie fit to the Elizabethan time period. There are also some pretty kickass illustrations in the novel, my favorite being one in which Luke holds a Storm Trooper helmet (like Hamlet holding a skull).
There is a book called The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell some of you might be familiar with. Basically it is a discussion about the theory of the journey the archetypal heroes go through in different mythologies. After researching these different hero journeys, Campbell came up with the definition called monomyth, which he summarized by saying : "A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man." While forming this theory Campbell looked into the work of Freud (Oedipus complex) and Jung, for example. But other important source of Campbell were the stories and mythologies found around the work, including the works of Shakespeare - Hamlet was among his list of archetypal heroes mentioned.
The death of innocents doth bring me joy,
Because the dark side is my chosen path,
The senseless end of others pains me not.
For I have play'd the part of judge severe
And then have been the executioner
Why would I care for those on Alderaan,
When I have murder'd innocents as they?
'This my dark calling, which I do embrace
To Alderaan we fly on course direct,
And to this feast of death I'll not object.
When making Star Wars, George Lucas was intentionally using Campbell's theory of monomyth. Thus the link is established - Shakespeare wrote plays with archetypal characters, Campbell researched them and then Lucas used Campbell's theories to write the characters to Star Wars. Thus, the characters and the relationships found from Star Wars fit perfectly to the format of a Shakespeare play. There is the difficult father/son relationship between Darth Vader and Luke which can be found also from for example Hamlet (and also The Tempest, but in that case it is between a daughter and father). In Shakespeare's plays the villains are also usually very easy to identify, like Sith Lords, and they are usually purely evil - examples of this are for example Iago from Othello. There are also shared themes between Star Wars and Shakespeare's plays - for example Macbeth is also about the desire for power and the actions of fate and destiny.
"Thou shalt not label me
A mindless, brute philosopher! Nay, nay,
Thou overladen glob of grease, thou imp
Thou rubbish bucket fit for scrap, thou blue
And silver pile of bantha dung! Now, come,
And get thee hence away lest someone sees."
What I usually love most about Shakespeare plays are the interesting side characters, such as Caliban from The Tempest. In Shakespeare's Star Wars, 3-CPO and R2-D2 are the observant side characters who comment on the events in a very humoristic manner. Obi -Wan Kenobi is an interesting one because at first he is the mentor and the wise man (almost like Prospero from The Tempest), but later on he becomes the haunting, advice giving ghost who reaches the hero (like Hamlet's father).
I really enjoyed William Shakespeare's Star Wars, and I hope Doescher is already working on the sequel. A must read for every Star Wars/Shakespeare enthusiast.
Honestly, I did not really know what to expect from this book. The Goodreads rating was good, which is also a great sign and when I noticed that I would be able to get a used hardback of it from Amazon for like £2.50, I decided to order it and give it a chance. I cannot express how happy I am of the fact that I decided to do so.
It is the 1920s. Evie moves from Ohio to New York City to live with his uncle Will. The prospect of living in New York is like a dream come through to her - she dreams of the flappers and follies, the gin and the parties and the prospect of falling in love with someone special or several not so special guys. But it does not take long for Evie to realize that New York also has its dark side and that she has a very close connection to it.
I love the 20s, and I love New York City, so the setting of the book was a spot on for me. While reading the book I was able to see all the glamour and the well dressed people in the secret clubs protected with passwords. Evie is an interesting character - at points she is extremely selfish and does not think about the consequences of her actions, but at the same time she can also be very responsible, brave and intelligent. I think the fact that there were also things that I did not like about her made her more realistic and thus a character more easier to relate with.
Even though Evie could be called the "main" character of the novel, there are also several other characters the story follows. Thus, the novel is not only the story of Evie, but also a story of other people similar to her and people who are part of her life. I really liked the fact that the so-called "side characters" were also very well established and really served a purpose in the story and eventually they almost became like protagonists along Evie with their own stories and their own battles. I really liked Mabel, Evie's best friend - she is intelligent and interesting, but also a bit shy and not quite sure of what she wants from her future and what she wants to stand for. The romance in the story was not what I expected, which I loved - there was no instalove and at least I was not able to guess who the main love interest will be until the first clear signs of it were given by Bray.
Bray's writing is phenomenal. I was sucked to the story from the beginning until the end and I felt like I just need to keep reading to know more. The pacing of the story is brilliant and there really weren't any boring moments in the novel, which sometimes happens with a long book like this. The story itself was nothing like I expected - it is so complex it is hard to explain, to be honest and the description does not really do justice for it.
The Diviners was a truly enjoyable and exciting novel with a great ensemble of characters that I could not help but to fall in love with. I want the sequel right now and I really don't know how I will be able to wait until 2014. Definitely one of the best books I have read so far this year.
Oh wow... from where shall I start?
I really wanted to like this book. I really expected to do so due to its very high rating on Goodreads. But all the way from the beginning the issues just started to pile up and eventually I just started to see somewhat negative things while reading the book.
Before starting to rant about all the things I did not like, I want to just say that I totally get why so many people have liked this book. The story is different from other YA books I have read and I guess for some Raffe is the total hunk - mysterious and handsome and so on. But I just did not feel the plot, Raffe or to be honest, anything about this book. I gave it 2 stars on Goodreads just because of the fact that it was not like one of those books I want to just destroy or anything - it just was not for me and I probably won't remember the details and so on after a couple of days.
I think the main issue for me about this novel was the lack of back story. The action just begins and Ee does not really take time to build the world or explain what has happened and why the characters are in the situation they are in. I get that angels have come down to earth and brought havoc with them, but WHY? I know the book is from Penryn's point of view and the information the reader gets is what she knows, but leaving so many of fundamental questions unanswered feels like taking the easy road when it comes to writing and world building.
Other major issue I had was the fact that I did not really feel anything towards the characters. At points Penryn is extremely brave and resourceful, but when it comes to the most important questions (why the angel's are there etc.) she does not really question them that much, at least not out loud, because she does not want to give a certain type of picture of herself to Raffe. Also I get that she wants to do everything to save her sister, but since there really isn't any established back story, I did not root for the whole mission because I did not know much about Paige. Yes, she is in a wheelchair, but other than that, I was not really able to feel sympathy for her. I feel like Penryn's mother could have been such an interesting character, but for some reason I feel like she was just there to make Penryn seem like a stronger character - if the mother would be healthy she would probably take responsibility. Also, I have to write this down even though I am no expert on matters like this: it seems like the mother is a total nutcase, pretty much abusing her children etc. So how come she has been staying home til the apocalypse. You would think that a person like that would be institutionalized. And it is mentioned that the father left, and I guess the reason for that is the fact that the mother was so crazy, but the fact that he left and the children stayed with the mother does not really say much about the father either. But since neither, the condition of the mother and the leaving of the father, were properly discussed, I did not feel sympathy for the girls because of these things. It almost feels like the mother was written the way she was just to add some shock value to the story. I do not flinch upon gory details and events, and I really "liked" for example the part with the little girls and the cannibalism and such, but I feel like those did not do much for the story either and were there just to add more shocks etc.
Also, when it comes to Paige, I felt like she was the most unrealistic character of the whole bunch. She is described as a complete saint - vegetarian, the friend and cheerleader of all the crippled children etc. And she is only seven years old. I get that she was hurt and that her childhood probably was not the easiest one, but I feel like Ee somehow uses that as an excuse to make her look like a little mother Teresa. I have been seven years old myself and I have witnessed a lot of family members being seven years old. And let me tell you, they all were selfish sometimes and they all complained sometimes.
I think the writing style as well as the building of the story can be linked to the lack of character establishment. Angelfall is full of action (it almost feels like the whole books is a one big climax) and this takes away from the building of the characters and their personalities. Because Penryn and Raffe are constantly on the move and escaping from something or someone, they do not really get to know each other properly and because of that I did not sense any chemistry between them. Raffe is supposed to be this hot, sarcastic angel, but when he jokes it feels like Penryn does not really respond. I guess someone might see the exchanges between them funny, but I just mostly found them awkward. I think the main issue with writing for me was the lack of dialogue - the book is quite descriptive, and mostly just Penryn's thoughts similar to something like "maybe it is a squirrel... or a deer... or a snake" - the emphasis is put on details that do not really matter that much. The ending of the book just gets so ridiculously action-packed that is hard to follow what is happening and to who.
I think I will next rant some more about the angels. I get that they are powerful and such, but when talking about their weapons, only swords are mentioned. When Penryn talks about the outlook of San Francisco after the apocalypse, she compared it to way the city looks in the pictures taken after the 1906 earthquake.
As you can see from the picture, pretty destroyed outlook. I wish Ee would have taken time to tell the reader how the city became to look similar to the one in this picture. Fires and such are mentioned, but those probably were not started by swords. The lack of explanation about the motives of the angels just keeps bothering me.
As I have mentioned before, I know a lot of people have completely loved this novel and I do not want to hurt the feelings of any of those people. I just wanted to be completely honest and tell my opinion about this one. I know I might have been too observant when it comes to certain things (I had notes also about the TV watching habits of the angels as well as the coloring of them etc.) and there are things I did not even mention in this review that I did not really like.
As you can probably guess, I won't be picking up the second part of the series when it comes out.
Hannah is 19 years old. She left her parents and her home when she was 14 and moved to New York City to attend the Manhattan Ballet Academy. Now she is a dancer in the Manhattan Ballet, dreaming about her first solo role and a possible promotion. But when she meets Jacob, a NYU student and a musician, she starts to question her future. Is she ready to sacrifice her life to be a ballerina, or are there maybe other things she would like to do?
I am not very familiar with ballet. I have actually seen a ballet in New York City and then also here in Edinburgh, but that is pretty much it. And I guess I can count Black Swan to my ballet experiences because I have seen that film like 20 times. This book was written by an ex-professional ballet dancer, and she uses some of the terminology related to that world (movements etc) I did not really understand. But that did not really take that much away from the reading experience. So you do not have to be a ballet expert or anything to read this one.
The world of ballet and ballet dancers has always been very distant to me and I am sad to say that this book really did not bring me closer to that world. I loved the New York setting and some of the description of the city, but otherwise there were so many issues in the book that I simply cannot post this review without writing about them. First of all, Hannah is extremely superficial and self-centered for most of the novel. I realize that she is a professional ballet dancer and has to make a commitment, but for most of the time she is total bitch towards Jacob. She does not have time to see him, but then she has time to see Matt, who is this rich guy who just kind of shows up at one point, just because "he understands" her world. I feel like she does not even give a chance for Jacob to understand. Jacob is alright, I guess, but there really is no depth in his character and the whole relationship just feels way too fast. And Jacob is maybe too perfect in the sense that Hannah treats him like shit and he still remains interested.
Hannah's friends also are pretty annoying and there honestly is no depth to them - they are also superficial and self-centered (expect maybe Bea and I hope there would have been more about her in the novel). The world these girls live in is something I have not experienced, so I cannot say are they realistic portrayals or not, but I hope that they are not. I feel like a lot of things were over-simplified for this novel in order to make it compact and happy - even though there are struggle and disappointments, the ending is one of those happy, fairytale-like endings.
If you are a fan of ballet/dancer yourself, this will probably hit closer to home than it did for me. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't memorable either. I probably will have forgotten most of the character names etc. once this review is posted. A fast, somewhat entertaining read for someone interested in ballet/New York.
After all the hype about Eleanor and Park on several booktube channels I follow, my expectations were sky high - I was expecting a realistic romance, likable characters, real-life problems etc. Thankfully all of my expectations were filled.
The setting is 1986. High school. Eleanor and Park meet in a school bus. Eleanor is the new girl - awkward clothes, bright red hair, fat. Park is the half-Korean guy who just wants to blend into the crowd. At first Park does not now how to react to Eleanor. Other kids in the bus start to make fun of her, but for some reason Park cannot get past the fact that he should have said something to her. Once he realizes that she is reading the comics Park reads, he starts to bring her comics. First they do not speak, but once they start, it seems that they cannot stop.
I LOVED both Eleanor and Park. I really felt for Eleanor - her stepfather is probably the biggest asshole known to man. The house she lives in does not have a bathroom door and she has to share her room with all of her siblings. And since there is no money, she has to make due with the torn down clothes etc. her mother has given her. So no wonder other people think she wears weird clothes. She also describes herself as fat (other people call her "Big Red") which I found refreshing because usually the young adult female protagonists are described as "small, thin, petite" etc. This was just a nice change because I feel like I was able to identify with Eleanor in the sense that I am not "small, thin or petite" either. Park is charming, funny and totally the type of guy I would have liked in high school. He sometimes feels like he is in the shadow of his younger brother. He is not very confident and at the beginning he is humanly selfish - he is not sure what it will do to him if people start to see him around Eleanor who everyone has started teasing. But as he sees more and more of her, he realizes that what other people think does not really matter if he is not happy himself. And Eleanor makes him happy.
Many young adult novels rely on instalove, on some higher force that "forces" the couple together. Eleanor and Park realizes on chemistry, on getting to know someone before falling in love. I really loved how realistic the story was - Eleanor's problems and Park's family life make it seem like something that could definitely happen. I especially found Park's mother hilarious.
I know the ending of the story is not for everyone - I personally too felt like I wanted more - but now that I am writing this a couple of days later, I am happy it ended the way it did. I am not going to say more about that in order not to ruin the story, but I just want to say that you really should read this one. It has deserved all the hype it has gained among the readers.
Age of Miracles was one of those books I kind of "had" to buy just to get the 3 for 5 pounds sale at Works. The cover looked interesting and the little blurb in the back sounded like something I might be interested in. When I was looking for a short read, I picked this up from the shelf and started reading. Quite fast I realized that it can also be considered as an young adult/coming-of-age story, which was a nice surprise.
On an ordinary Saturday, like any other Saturday before it, 11-old Julia, our narrator, wakes up with her best friend and her family to discover from news that the rotation of the earth has slowed down. First, the slowing down does not seem like a very life changing occurrence - some people think it is a hoax, some just don't want to believe it. When her best friend leaves California, Julia starts to realize that maybe the change in the rotation really does make things more complicated. As time processes, the days and nights start to get longer and things like gravity, which we are so used to, starts to work in different way, making people sick. The people are divided into two camps - "real timers" and "clock timers" and the governments of the world do not seem to be able to find any answers to the questions of the population.
Even though the book has this science-fiction/dystopian element on it, I really liked the fact that it centered more on the problems of Julia - both the ones caused by the change and ones caused by other factors. Her best friend leaves, her grandfather is acting very weird and it seems that her father has some secrets he is not willing to share with the rest of the family. There is also Seth, the boy Julia has a crush on, but who does not seem to see Julia the way she sees him.
I have recently read quite a lot of dystopian/science fiction literature and even though I love the ravaged new societies and new government structures, it was refreshing to read something with a setting that is familiar. Also the change that happens seems like something very simple, but once time processes, you start to actually realize how drastically the world would change if the rotation of the earth would slow down.
The pacing of the novel is brilliant. The story is told by Julia as an adult and foreshadowing is used quite to an extent to build up the story and to keep the reader interested. The way the change to the rhythm and the norm is described is also brilliantly done - it becomes highly realistic and believable, which made it easier for me to get into the story. Julia is a likable narrator and it is interesting to follow the changes in her caused by the phenomena that takes place.
I really want to recommend The Age of Miracles for all the fans of dystopian young adult fiction. It might not seem like the most adventure filled, exciting read, but if you are looking for something more "realistic", this is the perfect read for you.