Book Talk: Words & Their Meanings by Kate Bassett

Book Talk: Words & Their Meanings by Kate BassettWords & Their Meanings by Kate Bassett
Publisher/Year: Flux- September 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None, debut novel!
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1
Anna O’Mally doesn’t believe in the five stages of grief. Her way of dealing with death equates to daily bouts of coffin yoga and fake-tattooing Patti Smith quotes onto her arms. Once a talented writer, Anna no longer believes words matter, until shocking discoveries– in the form of origami cranes– force her to redefine family and love.

As Anna goes in search of the truth, she discovers that while every story, every human being, has a last line, it might still be possible to find the words for a new beginning”

a2MAN, I wanted to connect more so I could have really FELT this emotional story.

a4I’m conflicted about this one because I can’t say I was SUPER drawn into it and it was a bit slow for the first half but it was a beautiful book in so many ways.  I loved the piercing story of grief it told. Anna’s grief is real and alive and she wears it in a way that everyone knows. She’s so inside herself and tormented by her grief that she can’t really let herself live after the loss of her “bruncle” Joe (technically an uncle but more like her brother). She’s the kind of character where you FEEL for her but she frustrates you in the way she does her family members and friends. I FELT THAT.

The “mystery” aspect that comes into play when she finds a note, that suggests she didn’t quite know Joe as well as she thought, didn’t really pick up until the second half and that part REALLY drew me when it finally got somewhere.   I think setting up Anna’s grief and family situation, while important, just dawdled a little bit too much for me and I was just holding on until I got to that element that would drive the plot and Anna forward. I love character driven books but I was struggling with her so I needed that plot to engage me a little more.

As a reader I could just FEEL the holes in the fractured family and I thought the people in Anna’s world were VERY fleshed out which I LOVED. I did GUESS the mystery’s outcome but not in a way that made it a dud for me. This book is quiet in the way it reads but OH THE ACHE IS LOUD AND PULSING and her journey back into LIVING her life was hard yet beautiful to watch. Also, I dogeared a lot because the writing is fantastic. Like really fantastic. I WISH I would have connected a little bit more considering how emotional this novel WAS but this was a good book that I WOULD recommend to people who don’t mind a bit of a slower, quiet novel.

a6
RATING-LIKED
factors+ writing, aching portrayal of grief, the plot
- I didn’t FEEL as much as I should have, some boredom in the first half

Re-readability: Probably not.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Because it wasn’t a favorite or a reread, unfortunately no.

a5people who like quiet & slower books, readers of stories that deal with grief, fans of a little mystery, people who want beautifully written books, people who like stories about writers

a8I think that what would have made my rating on this one SOAR to the higher scale would have been having some sort of emotional response. I can recognize the emotional nature of the story with Anna’s grief and discovering new pieces to her uncle and SEE that it is written in a way that, at times, did make my heart ache but I never felt that “in my bones” emotional response. The first half was REALLY slow for me too but when it finally picked up for me it was worth it. I loved the exploration of grief and this idea that we only have our own pieces to the existence of someone we love even though it might seem we have seen the whole of them.

review-on-post-itWords & Their Meanings by Kate Bassett

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does this book feel like something you’d be into?
*

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Book Talk: Station Eleven by Emily St. John MandelStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Publisher/Year: Knopf- September 2014
Genres: Adult Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Other Books From Author: Last Night In Montreal, The Lola Quartet, The Singer's Gun
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Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

 

 

A1

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains-this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.
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a2Truthfully it made me scared of some super flu (ALSO NOT FUN READING THIS WHEN PEOPLE ARE FREAKING ABOUT EBOLA). But, aside from THAT, I was also like BRAVO BRAVO, BOOK.

a4Have you ever read a book that you truly just wanted to give it a standing ovation after reading it because it was such a masterpiece that it seems like the only appropriate response? That was this book! It was just all around an amazing story that was flawlessly written and I honestly don’t even know where to begin with it.

I love me a good post apocalyptic story and this is a lot different from most I read which are more fast paced, action-y post-apocalyptic books. It really explored that “what next?” question when 99% of the population dies quickly. It’s that bare bones survival but it’s also about rebuilding and figuring what the new normal IS, in light of the past and what happened,  because just surviving becomes not enough — it’s not a life. It’s about how resilient the human spirit is. I loved how the Symphony and the Museum of Civilization were so perfect to show that about humanity. It was just so reflective and I felt it deep in my bones.

I think what was so scary and unsettling about this story for me was how EASILY this could happen. How some superflu can just spread and spread and suddenly 99% of the population is dead. The “after” seemed so realistic. There were just so many moments for me in this book where I realized how thin that line is between TODAY and a future like that. It also was super thought-provoking in that way. You see how useless the things that are attached to us (phones, tablets, computers) can be rendered so quickly.

I loved how we got to see glimpses of the moments the epidemic was unfolding and also 20+ years out from when it all happened. I loved seeing how one moment life was normal and then THIS happened and how people survived. But I also loved seeing what it was like 20+ years out. Where there was a whole generation who has never even seen the old world. And then the contrast with the past memories and the story playing out in the BEFORE was just so PERFECT and startling compared to what people were facing in the now. How different people become. What becomes important. What remains the same in the human spirit.

I grew really attached to the characters and loved how they were all connected by the same actor, Arthur, who died on stage the night when everything went to hell. I loved the perspectives and the reflections they all had in the face of all this and it just came together so marvelously.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ Story, writing, characters, uniqueness, thought-provoking qualities
- Took a teeny bit to figure out what was going on with shifting perspectives.

Re-readability: Potentially!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I really kind of want to get it.

a5EVERYONE?

People who want a more reflective & less action-y post-apocalyptic, people who like more character driven stories

a8Station Eleven is a book I want to recommend to everyone! There’s something so deeply unsettling about it — more than any crazy post-apocalyptic tale I’ve ever experienced. I think it lies in how REALISTIC it is. It paints a world that is terrifying to the bone but there’s also budding hope. I loved the way the story kind of centers a character and his story in the past but is so finely connected to the other characters who show us the scary bits of WHEN the world as we know it ended and then 20+ years in the future. It was brutal, thought-provoking and just a real masterpiece.

review-on-post-it

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
* If you’ve read it, did you figure out some of the connections as the story went on?
*Any recommendations for post-apocalyptic books in this vein?

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Book Talk: The Last Lecture by Randy PauschThe Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Publisher/Year: Hyperion- 2008
Genres: Memoir, Non-fiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Other Books From Author: None aside from some textbook kind of books.
AmazonGoodreads

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1
.Simply put, The Last Lecture is the last lecture from Randy Pausch — a computer science professor. He is diagnosed with cancer and comes to a place where he finds out it is terminal. He offers up his final lecture to a room full of students and colleagues and talks about achieving your childhood dreams, helping others to dream and achieve and thoughts on what it means to live.

a2I NEED TO LIVE BETTER.

a4I’ve been in a not so good place and honestly I kind of needed such a sobering read to make me think about life and the current status of things. Randy’s story touched my heart immensely and I sobbed quite a few times. Though sometimes it seems a little all over the place, I loved the wisdom of this man who was facing certain death and loved learning about him as person. I loved learning how he achieved his childhood dreams, the lessons he’s learned about LIVING in the face of death, what he wants for his family when he’s gone, etc.  He’s a stranger to me yet he bared so much of himself in this short little book. I wept for him, for his wife and for his kids. It wasn’t at all about dying but really about living. It was inspiring to be honest and just full of so much truth!

I dogearred so many pages because certain bits of his lesson resonated more where I’m at right now than others. And I think that everyone who reads this book will have lessons that will shake them up more than others. So much wisdom poured out of this one and I smiled a lot, too. I really want to take to heart some of the things that hit me.

I couldn’t help but think of my mom when I read this. Randy is a father and his children are very young and only one will probably ever have real memories of him. My heart broke because the fears that Randy had of dying were more about his children growing up without him…not about the actual dying part. It hit me really hard seeing it from the perspective of the person who knows they are going to die. It was actually really a gift to me and maybe kind of let me see my mom in a different light.

Some quotes I loved (so hard to pick from ALLL my dog-ears):

1. “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

2. “Too many people go through life complaining about their problems. I’ve always believed that if you took one-tenth of the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out.” Then later on in that section: “Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.”

3. “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.”

4. “The key question to keep asking is, Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have. ”

 5. “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. If I don’t seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you.”

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ honestly it’s mostly just HOW IT HIT ME kind of thing. Wise, wise man.
- Nothing really. Sometimes it was all over the place but it was worth it for what I did get out of it.

Re-readability: Maybe not in its entirety but definitely the dogears.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I have a copy that I had bought and it will stay on my shelf!

a5fans of memoirs, people who feel like they are in a rut and want to be inspired, readers looking for short non-fiction

a8The Last Lecture is a short little book packed with so much stripped down wisdom and lessons from a man who doesn’t have much time left because he has terminal cancer. I wish I could photocopy it into my brain to have it there every day to remember these lessons when I’m letting the unimportant things of life get in the way and distract me from what it really is to live. Honest, made me sob and one of those books that has something everybody needs to hear.

review-on-post-it

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
*

 


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6 Reasons Why I Freaking Loved The Young Elites by Marie Lu

6 Reasons Why I Freaking Loved The Young Elites by Marie LuThe Young Elites by Marie Lu
Series: The Young Elites #2
Publisher/Year: Putnam Juvenile- October 7, 2014
Genres: YA Fantasy
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: The Legend series (LOVED IT)
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

1.  Adelina. THAT GIRL: Adelina is one of the most compelling characters I’ve come across in a long time. If you read the interview with Marie Lu you’ll know that Adelina was originally a side character and was a villain of sorts. When Marie switched her focus to Adelina, The Young Elites really became the origin story of a villain. She’s so intriguing because she does things that you are like WHAT WHAT WHAT NO but also there is whole level of sympathy you have for her. She’s had a rough past where people have been so cruel to her and you GET where that hardness is from. But then you see these moments of greatness and a softer side to her. She’s so compelling and my heart ached for her in all her brokenness but her strength was just so heartstoppingly so — scary almost!

2. The setting is to die for: I LOVED THE SETTING. It’s a fantasy world but you can tell that Marie’s inspirations were Renaissance Venice/Italy. It feels historic but it so wholly a fantasy world. I just couldn’t get enough of it because I could see it so beautifully.

3. The magic: So after this illness ravaged the land, some children had strange markings and such happening and they were labelled as malfettos and were looked at as an abomination. The other thing that some of these children had? These new found, strange powers. They are seen as dangerous and there is a group of them called The Young Elites that everyone is SO afraid of and blame for all these bad things happening which is why queen and king are trying to murder them all. As Adelina comes in contact with The Young Elites I LOVED learning what all their powers were and I loved seeing Adelina develop hers as she is a bit of a loose cannon because she has no idea how to control it and work it.

4. How dark this novel was: In Legend, even though the world was dark in ways, it just doesn’t even come close to the sort of darkness that this story touches. Part of it is, as I said before, Adelina is more of a villain and not as easy to root for as June and Day but there’s just underlying darkness in this world. Sinister characters. The things that these characters have to do to live. The things that they are happening in the leadership. How layered and not black and white the issues of morality are. It was just PERFECT.

5. How Marie was constantly able to surprise me: It takes a lot to surprise me. I’ll be honest. But Marie WENT THERE. Things happened that I never thought in a million years would and certain revelations had me frantically turning the pages. It never once went down the path of predictability for me and THAT my friends is a damn good reading experience that leaves you on the edge of your seat.

6. The exciting possibilities for book 2: HOLY CRAP. It was one of those experiences where I was just bouncing up and down with excitement for how everything is setting up for book 2….and then I realize I HAVE NO BOOK 2. I think book 2 is going to be so exciting with how everything ended and there’s promise of new characters to be excited about from lands we haven’t seen yet. This is going to be a damn good series! I can feel it in my bones.

a6
RATING-beyondloved
factors+ plot, characters, surprises, set up for book 2, writing
- NADA

Re-readability: I would probably actually reread this one before book 2.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I’ll probably wait until book 2 to see if this is a series to invest in but I have good feels about that.

a5fantasy lovers, people who love complex characters who aren’t morally easy to pin down, people who love strong female main characters, people looking for a new series to be addicted to, fans of Marie Lu, people who find villain-y type characters very compelling

a8The Young Elites was everything and MORE than I was hoping for this novel. It was a lightning quick, intense read for me because everyone was so compelling and complex, the plot lingered and surged forward at all the right moments and it absolutely surprised me. It’s dark, unpredictable  and I have a good feeling about where this series is going.

review-on-post-it

The Young Elites Marie Lu review

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does this series feel like something you’d be into?
* Did you sympathize with Adelina?

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Carla’s Corner: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (NO SPOILERS)

So so back when I was a wee newbie blogger in 2010 there was this blog I fell in love with immediately. It was called The Crooked Shelf and it was run by a sassy Brit who had fantastic taste in books and wrote some of the best reviews ever. We became friends and even got to hang out at BEA 2011…and had the best time ever. Seriously.

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And then she stopped blogging…which was the saddest thing ever for so many of us because her voice was one of the best and early on I aspired to BE like Carla in the way that I just wanted to have my own distinct voice — whatever that was. It was definitely a hit to the blogosphere for many of us oldies when she left.

And now, through a Twitter conversation about missing her as a blogger, I introduce you to Carla’s Corner where Carla will take over my blog sporadically whenever she feels like it and talk about what’s she’s reading and HAS to talk about! I’m excited to have her voice back in the blogosphere and for people who didn’t get to know her back in the day to get the chance to!!

So first up?? It is only fitting that Carla reviews a Maggie Stiefvater book. Fun story: The one and only time I saw Carla lose her shit and become a 12 year old little girl was when she met Maggie Stiefvater at BEA. It was the cutest moment EVER and her and Maggie hugging and talking made me all teary because it was one of Carla’s all time FAVORITE authors!!

So take it away Carla…

 Blue Lily, Blue Lily review no spoilersBlue Lily, Blue Lily by Maggie Stiefvater
Book #3 of The Raven Cycle series (I’ve read, loved and reviewed book 1)
Release Date: October 21st – Scholastic Press
* This book was downloaded from Netgalley for review consideration.

 Carla’s Thoughts:

Blue Lily, Lily Blue is simultaneously the best book I have ever read and also the worst.

Let’s start with the best.

Trying to explain or describe how much I love Stiefvater’s writing is like trying to count all of the stars in the sky; impossible, incredibly brain aching and needing calculations and equations that my mind just isn’t capable of fathoming. I’ve never really been that good at math.

Her words are a dream come to life, like Ronan himself has plucked them out of his dreams and handed them over. The characters, they come to life, never once drifting off into slumber like those cows in the barns.  The words don’t sleep like dream things do when they’re not dream things anymore, they roar like the pigs engine. They pull handbrakes turns and skid right into your heart, then come to a juddering stop and stay there.

The character development is soft and sure and strong.  Ronan is still as sharp, shiny and cutting as the edge of a knife but everyone knows that sharp things don’t always stay so sharp. Gansy is still full of wonder and hope and light but everyone knows lights eventually dim until they sputter out completely. Blue is still small and full of yoghurt and truth. Adam is still rustling leaves and springy moss. And Noah is as still as grey and smudgy as a charcoal drawing dropped into a puddle. And yet they are so completely different, as wondrous as the legend of Glendower himself. We’ll never really know them, this little quartet of strange teenagers and I’m glad of it because things that hold that much magic should never really be knowable.

I won’t say anything about the plot because I don’t want to spoil but know this; you can dream of welsh kings and girls with spiky hair and boys with peppermint leaves in their mouths but you can’t ever dream a story so full of magic and suspense and heart guttering mind numbing terror.  It’s a dream that only Stiefvater can create for us and I can’t wait stop slip into what’s bound to be a momentous conclusion to the story of blue and her boys and their sleeping welsh king.

You will be so full of dreadful glee that you’ll laugh as manically as Ronan. You’ll worry and fret just like Adam and you will stride forward towards the end just like Gansey (walking ~is~ only for normal people after all). But most of all you hope beyond hope that their story doesn’t end how it started; with a young boy in his Aglionby uniform, his shoulders soaked with rain and the words “that’s all there is” just like Blue.

And the reason why it was the worst? Because it ended and I wasn’t quite ready to let go.
Have you guys read this one? Started this series?? Let us know what you think! Also, say hi to Carla!! :)

3 Books I Read & Enjoyed In September

I’ve been having a bit of a restless spirit recently and no motivation to write some longer reviews. Also? I’ve been a reading machine lately (for ME) and the books to talk about have been piling up. So (non-spoilery) mini book talk time!! YAYS?

 

Girl Defective by Simmone Howell

Genre: Contemporary YA, Date Published: September 2, 2014
Goodreads// Amazon
* I received for review consideration from the publisher.

Girl Defective Simmone Howell
I LOVED this novel. There was just something so magical about it even though it was an “ordinary life” kind of story…if that makes sense? Another win for the Aussie YA authors for me! SO MUCH HEART in this book and I loved the quirkiness of the characters and just how CHARMING it was. My heart ached for Skylark’s broken little family and seriously loved that storyline so much — her dad who is a functioning alcoholic, her mom who abandoned them and her little brother who I’m pretty sure is supposed to have Asperger’s (I say this as someone who used to work with kids with it). And Skylark…her voice is endearing and I loved her so much. I loved her growth in the span of this novel! One thing I really loved is how ALIVE everything in this book felt — the record shop that her dad owned even when it was always half deserted, the music, the adventures Skylark and Gully had through the streets of her town as they chased their mystery they wanted to uncover. Girl Defective was a quiet gem about a girl trying to find her place in the world that tugged at my heart and made me smile right until the moment I closed its pages.

RATING: RATING-loved-it

 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Genre: Adult Fiction Thriller Release Date: 2012
Goodreads // Amazon

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

So I FINALLY read this one! FINALLY. I got scared of the hype, man! But I had been lucky enough to stay spoiler free so THAT was great. I only knew that it was twisted and crazy and lots of opinions of love AND hate for the end. And WELL it was definitely as twisty and messed up as everyone said. It took me a little bit to get completely absorbed in this crazy story but once I was it was just this maddening, furious reading experience. I loved how it all unraveled. I’ll say I completely guessed the big THING but it didn’t put a damper on the reading experience at ALL because I never knew what kind of shenanigans were going to be thrown out after that. I hated almost every character (except Go and the one police officer)…and I’m certain that was intended. I did NOT expect the ending. I’ll say that. I totally pictured it ending different but I will say I thought the ending was very fitting and I liked it. *shivers* MAN, this book was all sorts of messed up but I enjoyed this thrilling ride. Time to read or watch super happy and uncomplicated things next!!

RATING: RATING-reallyliked

 

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Genre: YA Fantasy Release Date: September 9, 2014
Goodreads // Amazon
* I received this for review consideration.

Illusions of Fate Kierstan White

 

I was so pleasantly surprised by this one. It hadn’t stood out to me when I got it for review but Stephanie Perkins recommended it at her event that was near me so I picked it up. It’s a standalone fantasy novel and, even though I am SO series weary, I was honestly wishing it was a series because I genuinely enjoyed the characters and would love to see more of this world because the magic element and the royal blood line is something I’m sure could be explored more. The world-building was sparse but well set up– it’s a fictional land but it’s very much like our world and honestly the setting reminded me of London in a way and there is magic amongst the “real” world. I loved Jessamin — she’s so smart, sassy and easy to root for as she’s away from the underprivileged island she grew up on and is trying to go to school here where she’s an outcast basically. The romance between Jessamin and Finn is so cute and I LOVED their banter. Their predicament and taking down the baddie made me tear through this book!  If you are looking for a standalone YA fantasy that isn’t too terribly long, I absolutely recommend!

RATING: RATING-reallyliked

 

 Have you read any of these books? Whatta think if you have? I’d love to hear your perspective! If you haven’t, do they look like something you would be into?

Book Talk: The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien

Book Talk: The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’BrienThe Vault of Dreamers by Caragh O'Brien
Publisher/Year: Roaring Brook Press- September 16, 2014
Genres: YA Science Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: Birthmarked series
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1
Rosie’s whole life has been photography and when she gets the chance to attend the prestigious Forge School there’s no way she’ll turn that down — even if that means being part of the Big Brother-esque reality show based on the school called The Forge Show. Part of the curriculum is that the students sleep for 12 hours to enhance their creativity by way of a sleeping pill. Rosie, feeling overwhelmed by the reality show and the fact she’s at the bottom of the popularity charts that could send her home, decides to skip out on her sleeping pill and discovers things aren’t as they seem behind the cameras — things that seem sinister and just really off.
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a2WHAT.THE.FUQ.

a4The Vault of Dreamers was one I almost put down because I was feeling impatient even though the premise was KICKASS, became glad that I kept reading in the middle but the ending kind of made me twitchy and the jury will still be out on whether I’m glad I persevered until the sequel (YEA..I thought it was a standalone).  So let’s break it down because it was up and down.

The beginning: I was SO confused because I felt like I was just dropped into this story because it started a couple days into the reality show rather than day 1 or before she arrived at this school. Also we were never told if this was the future or present (but a randomly dropped sentence later on clears that up). I just felt SO confused and really struggled to care about Rosie or really what was going on. I need to care about SOMETHING and the allure of this kickass premise and general intrigue was fading with all the trying to catch up via flashbacks to why Rosie was there and what the deal with the Forge School was.

The middle until the end: HOLY CRAP. HOLY CRAP. I was racing through it. The suspense and mystery, the whole Big Brother element (I am a BIG fan of that show), the craziness of the Forge School, the way it SO COMPLETELY MESSES WITH YOUR MIND. I seriously was like OMGOMGOMG I need to know what is happening at this creepy ass school. I was tense every time Rosie was sleuthing around and audible gasps could be heard. As we get closer to the end I DID NOT EVEN KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON. Was Rosie dreaming? Is she going crazy? Is there something sinister? WHO CAN SHE TRUST? WHAT IS GOING ONNNNN? The way that the author was able to make ME so unbelievably unsure of what was going on and the whole elaborate THING happening at the Forge School was so incredibly fascinating.

The ending: I just don’t even know what happened. I just don’t.  It was a confusing blur to me in a way but at least we got a pretty big nod to the WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON HERE question.  My brain was spinning. I’m not sure I even quite understand the ending (CAN SOMEBODY EXPLAIN THE ENDING TO ME TO MAKE SURE I AM ON THE SAME PAGE??). I THOUGHT it was a standalone so it was puzzling and then I was like IT HAS TO BE A SERIES because WHAT EVEN. So then I found out it IS a series or at least a duology. It’s weird because it actually totally COULD be an ending and no need for a sequel but then the other part of me is like WHAT?!?

 

a6RATING-LIKED

factors+ Plot, how I flew through it and couldn’t put it down after the slow beginning
- beginning struggles, the ending, some confusing bits, a little bit of indifference to characters

Re-readability: Probably not but I might need a little refresher before the sequel.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Probably not honestly. Most of the books staying on my shelf I have a really deep connection with.

a5people who like interesting science fiction concepts that mix with a psychological thriller type read.

a8The Vault of Dreamers was quite the ride — honestly a bit like a rollercoaster. The beginning was that slow and painful ascent to where THE GOOD STUFF HAPPENS (aka the adrenaline and the stomach dropping panicky-glee thing) and then from there was this exhilarating ride that seemed to be over before I knew it — complete with that neck-breaking stop at the end of the ride. Such an interesting concept complete with psychological chaos. Was definitely a plot driven read for me because once it got good it was GOOD.

 

review-on-post-itThe Vault of Dreamers by Caragh O'Brien

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does this series feel like something you’d be into?
* What did you think about the ending?? (pls mark spoilers!)

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta

Book Talk: The Piper’s Son by Melina MarchettaThe Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta
Publisher/Year: Candlewick- March 2010
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Other Books From Author: Jellicoe Road, Saving Francesca, Finnikin of the Rock (series), Looking For Alibrandi
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Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1
The Piper’s Son takes place 5 years after Saving Francesca. It’s a companion novel but it can TOTALLY stand alone though I do think reading Saving Francesca is a GREAT idea anyways. It focuses on Thomas Mackee and his family who have endured a tragedy. This tragedy has ripped the family apart and Tom himself has quit all the things he loved and pushed everyone else away and is pretty much at an all time low. He’s forced to confront the brokenness when he gets kicked out of his apartment and has to live with his pregnant aunt and gets a job where a couple of his former friends work.

a2I NEED TO STOP READING HER BOOKS BECAUSE THEY DESTROY ME FOR ALL OTHER BOOKS.

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I’ve said it before in my Melina Marchetta reviews but I’ll say it again — there are books and there are Melina Marchetta books for me. I don’t know what energy of the universe she harnesses to write these amazingly perfect books that make you feel like you’ve never felt these feelings before but at the same time they resonate so, so deeply. I DON’T KNOW but, like always with her novels, I’m completely rendered speechless after reading The Piper’s Son and it just keeps simmering in my mind long after I finish.

1. I loved returning to Frankie and the gang: This takes place about 5 years after Saving Francesca and the main focus is on Tom’s life rather than Frankie’s. Some of the group is still around and some of them are off in different places. I loved the bits and pieces we got that filled in the pieces of what went down in those 5 years. Selfishly I wanted more to know every last detail of those 5 years but alas that would be a series now wouldn’t it? Tom has been outside of the group after losing his uncle Joe and has pushed them away and made some really bad decisions. I loved watching the group try to rally for Tom like they did Frankie in Saving Francesca but also show him tough love that he needed. This group has my heart!

2. I loved learning more about Tom Mackee: Oh my god I love him and I was always so curious about him in Saving Francesca as we got to know him. We learn of his romance with a familiar character from the group & we learn what he had been up to when the tragedy happened to his family. We see the effects of all that and how he’s given up everything that made Tom, well, Tom. I loved learning more about his family background and how he saw things from back in the Saving Francesca days and how he interacted with the others/saw the others. I fell in love with Thomas Mackee for sure even when he was unlikable and downright hard to deal with.

3. The brokenness of Tom and his family GUTTED me: The brokenness of Tom’s family was just so heavy on my heart the whole time I read. The tragedy that befalls Tom’s family is one that just collides with their world and shatters everything into a million places. I could feel the weight of this fractured family especially when juxtaposed with all these memories of the family BEFORE. They are THAT family that you wish you could be a part of. So close, so beautiful. I also loved that we got chapters from Tom’s aunt which filled in some of family history but also told of her pain and loss and how it still affects her.

4. I’ve read a lot of books dealing with grief but few come close to the layered and gut-wrenching grief in this book: The layers of grief in this book, man. My heart feels a bit differently after finishing this one because I feel like it was hammered and twisted and punted across a field. Grief is a really, really hard thing to explain, as someone who has grieved a devastating loss myself, but somehow Marchetta just nails it. Just brilliantly and right through the heart.

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ EVERYTHING
- NADA. So close to a beyond loved but I’m so very stingy with that rating. It’s SO hovering right on that line.

Re-readability: Oh yes.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Of course.

a5people who read Saving Francesca, fans of Gayle Forman/Trish Doller/Cath Crowley, people looking for a great male POV, people who like books about family

a8The Piper’s Son is yet another Melina Marchetta masterpiece. A beautiful and gut-wrenching story of loss, the enduring bonds of family and friendship amidst tragedy and the kind of healing that can only come with the help of the ones we love. Thomas Mackee, you will not recede back into the pages of the book ever.

review-on-post-it

The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
*

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Kiss Of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick

Book Talk: Kiss Of Broken Glass by Madeleine KuderickKiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen- September 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None as of right now.
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1
.A teenager is caught cutting at school and is sent to a psych ward for a mandatory 72 hours. During this time she’s forced to confront her addiction to cutting, reflect on what made her start cutting and she meets some other patients along the way whose presence gives her much to think about and make these 72 hours interesting.

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I almost put this book down to be honest because I was just really not into it. It wasn’t the novel in verse thing, which I like, it was just that I was pretty much bored and not feeling like I cared what the last page held. But I kept reading it because I was like, “oh what the hell..it’s really short, told in verse and I’ll finish it in less than an hour…which I did.

1. I swear, I felt no emotions during this book: If I could have recorded my face reading it I feel like my face would have been have remained the same the whole time and FEELINGS pretty much did fluctuate at all. I was just turning page after page hoping something would make me care. I mean, I WANTED to care about a young girl who cuts herself and gets caught and Baker Acted (sent to a psych ward for a mandatory 72 hours). I thought I would feel something towards it but I just didn’t. Like at all. I felt nothing really which was strange considering I know it was inspired by this happening to the author’s daughter.

2. From a technical standpoint I thought the novel in verse worked well & the writing was solid: It was poetic and flowed really well. I really LOVE novels in verse and this executed it really well. It really FIT the story well!

3. I will say that I liked that it wasn’t an AND NOW SHE IS FIXED AFTER THIS EVENT type of book but just a snapshot of a girl who can’t help but cut and is forced to reflect on it: It was about a normal girl. Not a girl with a ton of issues or a deep dark secret. But just a girl who got caught up in it for her own reasons (which are revealed). It wasn’t an “AND NOW SHE IS SAVED AND SHALL NEVER CUT AGAIN” book but an honest look at a girl who gets a chance to reflect on it for 72 hours and meet people who will give her even more to think about. It’s that looking back of this is how I got there, this is where I’m at and she gets to think about the path she wants to take when she is released. I FELT like it was a realistic portrayal but I also admit that my experience is limited to this peer pressure induced, wanting-attention-from-a-guy-I-liked week of cutting I had in 7th grade.

 

a6RATING-mixed

factors+ the writing
- I was so bored, no emotional connection whatsoever

Re-readability: No.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Not for mine but I plan to donate my copy to the YA section of my library.

a5fans of novels in verse, people who are interested in novels dealing with cutting

a8On a technical level I thought Kisses of Broken Glass was well written and the way it was told in verse really fit the story well. I liked the idea of the book but I literally felt nothing at all. No emotion at all which was strange because I should have felt SOMETHING while reading. I should have probably put it down when I thought about how bored I was but I 1) thought it would pick up and 2) it was so short I was like MIGHT AS WELL FINISH.

review-on-post-it

Kiss of Broken Glass Madeleine Kuderick

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does this book feel like something you’d be into?
* What are some of your favorite novels in verse??

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

But There’s Always Something Else At The End

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

I just finished Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer and I’m feeling unsure how I want to talk about it, other than just generally knowing I want to talk about my connection to this book. Whether or not I’ll “book talk” it later, I don’t know, but that’s the freedom I’ve given myself by hanging up my book reviewer hat.

What Belzhar Is About:

Belzhar is about a girl who gets sent to a school for kids with “issues” and they are supposed to heal. The main character has lost her boyfriend and gets sent there because she is unable to cope with it. She gets put in a special English class and there are only like 4 other kids in the class and it’s SUCH a hard class to get into and nobody knows how anyone gets picked…but every year kids in this class proclaim it as life-changing. When she gets in the class, she realizes they are going to be studying the works of Sylvia Plath the whole semester and they are given a journal writing assignment that leads her and her classmates to Belzhar…a place they all almost can’t believe is real.

I don’t want to give anymore away than that, but I immediately knew this was going to be an interesting book for me. The Bell Jar changed my life, so I was interested to see how the works of Sylvia Plath would change these kids.

My first Bell Jar reading experience:

I was a senior in high school. My mom had just been diagnosed with brain cancer and was told she had maybe 6 months to live (she ended up living for 2 years though, FIGHTER she was). The chaos that was unleashed on the day of that diagnosis forever altered my life. It wasn’t an after-school special where we rallied around each other and lived out her last days frolicking in the sun and such. There was anger that none of us knew what to do with. And that anger became as volatile as an active volcano. One night, everything was too much and I left. I packed a bag and called a friend and I left. I ended up living at a friend’s house for a month or so (a friend who, I might add, had the perfect Full House kind of family which made it harder for me). I only saw my family in counseling sessions until I returned home.

I was feeling very alone and, while thankful for the family housing me,  just felt like nobody understood. I was in this violent sea of anger and confusion and grief, just being thrashed by waves and feeling like I couldn’t keep afloat. I went to the library and decided to give The Bell Jar a try. No idea why. I just had heard of it and decided I wanted to read it. I will never forget reading this book in a room that was not mine, surrounded by people who couldn’t understand what I was going through. I stayed in that bed until it was over and I wept and I wept and I wept.

Someone finally put words to what I was feeling. I no longer felt alone. Or crazy. I understood Esther and that feeling of all-consuming isolation, like you are absolutely alone, trapped inside a bell jar nobody can even penetrate. I wrote like crazy after that experience — I knew I had to get it all out. I felt the tiniest light of hope in one of the darkest and confusing times of my life. That book helped me out of it in a way.

My experience reading Belzhar:

The characters in Belzhar know that bell jar feeling so well. As they each reveal their stories, you see the aching loneliness they have because of situations in their life. Soul-crushing pain and grief and guilt and confusion. There was one quote in particular that just really encapsulated both of our experiences:

Belzhar quote

But then they start reading Plath & writing in their journals. And these words – they save in a way. They let us know we aren’t alone. They allow us to feel outside of ourselves, which is exactly what helped the numbness dissipate for me. They give voice to things you couldn’t even assemble into words. Let you slip into somebody else’s life for a bit or get an outside look in to your own life.

Belzhar Meg Wolitzer

If I read The Bell Jar prior to that year, I probably wouldn’t have felt the way I did about it on a personal level. But words find you and take you where you need to go. Just like they did the characters in Belzhar — though definitely in a more physical way.

Reading Belzhar reminded me of the power of words and how healing they can be — whether they are the ones we breathe into ourselves or the ones we put out into the world for others to breathe in. It reminded me of how sometimes you read a book that your soul really needed you to read. It reminds you of your humanness and that we don’t have to share the burden alone. That’s what I loved about the English class in Belzhar. They didn’t have to share their burdens alone anymore — they had each other to share their pains and their guilt and the weight of the world they were each carrying.

And it reminded me of the hope…

There is more to that ribbon passage I shared above. It continues:

Belzhar quotes

It’s the kind of hope I had at the end of The Bell Jar that is mirrored in this book. When I read the end I saw that Esther knew that things weren’t going to be automatically easy, but she had reached the end of the ribbon where there was something other than infinite pain. She knew she could still descend into that madness and it would be hard, but there was hope. And 18-year-old Jamie, who felt so lost and knew that harder things were going to come because a cancer was currently wreaking havoc on her mom’s brain? She needed to know there was going to be something at the end of that ribbon. Something different. That it wouldn’t be endless pain.

As I read Belzhar I found myself instantly transported back to that time in my life and reminded of how powerful words can be. Things have been rough here in the present — not hopeless, but hard enough that it’s tough remember to have hope — and I think reading this book took me to a Belzhar of my own…a Belzhar I needed to go to right now.

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