Monday, March 30, 2015

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

MagoniaMagonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We've all seen those deep, deep profound quotes people have posted, yet it's this line "You've never seen surprise until you've looked into the eyes of an ascending bovine." upon which I could declare Magonia all kinds of wonderful.

Bits of this had me thinking Going Bovine, then Ava Lavender, and then a little bit of Stardust (perhaps on account of that blurb, but not really) But really it's everything in this that has me... happy. First there's the random quirk present because of two leads who are not quite the usual. Two, for what's heartfelt between her and him, her and them, and then her and the rest. Then... then those biting, honest moments of Aza as to how she viewed her goings-on. (It's this last that's reframed my perception of Little Women' Beth, my grade four fancies to that end have been shot down.)

Though this is not perfect --Jason reads too dork-perfect to be true -- most everything else felt right.

Thank you, Edelweiss!

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright PlacesAll the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reminiscent of Thirteen Reasons Why and Spectacular Now, All the Bright Places' Theodore Finch has won my heart then broken it, while Violet Markey has reminded me that some things can be lovely and then not.

Their story begins with both lost then shifts to them navigating their less than perfect realities, as they work through what is acceptable and not in definitions of who they are/were/could be from his  Freak to her Survivor, his Son to her Sister, then stranger, friend, and finally more...

Every aspect of this resonates. For him, it's his undefined nature, his need to be felt,  and his want to matter--- all the while speaking truth that's not once rendered unlikely with the too-profound.  And while that last is likewise present, its still his TRUTH I take with me, for there's possibility in his manner and honesty  in his everything else.

Then for her, it's the notion of not- knowing who she is, where she's headed, as well as what really counts. 

So that it's his presence that seems to change things for her (and her in his as well,) but such is an oversimplification as nothing really changes until they do and in this case those push, no shove us toward an end that... that breaks your heart for one of them but leaves you hopeful for the other.

This is at all once thoughtful, truthful, heart breaking.

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3) by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Isla and her HEA is not about the where but about the who. It's Isla then it's Josh and then it's Isla AND Josh.

Isla is undefined but ready to be. In her we have somebody living an almost insulated life with her as yet determined goal. Contrast her to Josh who is clear on where he's going; thus, simply biding his time till he could get started, then in other instances, merely going through the motions of what's expected without thought, effort, or consideration. In them is a pair of people about to embark on beginnings of adulthood where emotions (theirs and mine) ran the gamut of messy and complicated then sweet and pitch-perfect romancewise.  And it was lovely in doing so.

For Josh is a far from the ideal, as he holds himself apart from what the rest are up to; whereas Isla is wholly in the process of moving through young adulthood. It's them finding each other when they do that sets them and their story apart because this is not just a pair and a meet cute pulled suddenly progressing into a 'them' then apart by  some situation/issue/drama and then pulled together again.

No, for their making is a slow one, a sweet one, but mostly, a plausible one. The last is particularly true as both learn to navigate through the other's past, as both come into this as more than the individuals they are; the relationships they are/were in, their (non) goals, the experiences they carry define a part of them; it's the recognition this last is allowed that mark things true because they aren't each others only's but could be.

More than them, this is Isla figuring out what it means to be her, opening herself to choosing a something not because it's what's expected or is what's done, but simply because she could. And this is also Josh, and seeing matters not defined by the way things were or the way things no longer are,  instead seeing things as they could become. All these shifts and realizations, then choices and decisions make for a messy, sometimes hard yet definitely real and heart felt experience.

I LOVED this.


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Never Never (Never Never, #1) by Colleen Hoover, Tarryn Fisher

Never Never (Never Never, #1)Never Never by Colleen Hoover

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This feels like I have just finished a needlessly long introduction. Worse yet, when things stared picking up, we're dealt with another tepid non-ending. This had me thinking of 50 First Dates, minus the cute of Barrymore, but plus ten of the confounding.

Nothing is explained and we're only left with questions. WHILE I could say the leads are so imperfect they read plausible, honestly, each discovery about the other then their respective selves had me asking how there was a past them to begin with.

Will I be reading the next one? MAYBE. And that's what I take from this... it's chock full maybe and perhaps. Perhaps, there's more to Charlie; perhaps, Silas is not quite the douche he's coming across as. And perhaps, I'm still going to read the next. Who knows? 

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

I Was HereI Was Here by Gayle Forman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I Was Here

In all of Forman's books, we witness characters on some emotional path navigating the same sometimes clumsily, but always with others and because of others. In this it's Cody because of Meg and with Ben and all others left reeling by the second's choice. Yet it's Meg who felt most plausible. Never mind all the additional threads of who Tricia was or wasn't for Cody, or who Ben was or wasn't, for that matter. For me, it's Meg and her choice and all that's subsequent to that which tugged at me first.

Meg read plausible, no, real to me... because as both Richard in the book, and Forman later on holds, we've all been there. And that's what made this more, in how one moment translated into another -- urge to feeling to consideration to exploration to an action, or actions in Meg's case. It was all scarily accurate. An accuracy that had me wondering at its purpose. Was there too morbid a depiction here? Not exactly. If anything, Forman's specificity renders the whole thing less unclear, making things and their consequence more urgent. While more or less sensitively handled, I Was Here focuses on the fact that shit like this happens and not that it's OK.

To which I turn to Cody. The consequences for her are as expected- grief, anger... and a slew of actions with no real purpose, prompted by both emotions. Yet it's in those moments, that things happen, when she makes things happen to see things through. Because, otherwise, her story without Meg in the picture, simply devolves into "Is this my life?!" musings. I was never was quite sold on her as the lead. Too many things going on with her; too many things not dealt with that it took loss for things to finally progress. Perhaps, that's the point? Things, people move. Act... eventually.

Then Ben and who he was and what they would become. Was it necessary, this sudden love? Debatable... is each event in this separate or are they interconnected? Did Ben knowing Meg, and then Ben knowing Cody impact on anything anything here? Anyone could see where the story was going once the guitar playing bad boy type was introduced... but frankly, was it needed? Yet without him in the story I am almost certain I WAS HERE would have been too much the "sunless planet" Cody made reference to. Too dark, too sad, too real. Perhaps, a little Hollywood-happy is a positive, even if their Hollywood-happy was "fucked up and complicated."

Thank you, PBT.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

I Want It That Way (2B Trilogy #1) by Ann Aguirre

I Want It That Way (2B Trilogy #1)I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh ho ho! You deceptively tricky beginning, you! I confess it was the dark-ish tone that it started with that had me curious first. That last bit that Nadia as narrator tacked on  is so spot on as to why I read what I do these days; yes, I am one of those pulled in by things splintering apart. And while that's here, there's the after that as well.

And despite both, I felt the biggest plus in this is how not all of it is the melodrama of the girl loving the boy and the boy loving the girl and all is well and perfect if only! There's not much "if only's" here because the two provide a refreshing clear assessment as to what is versus what could be done versus what needs to be done.

Both know what they want (and I'm talking outside the romantic here, folks) and both are aware of the position they're in as well as the path they're on. What's even more real is the way their lives are laid out- they party it up sure but not just, as there were actual moments of her as student; those glimpses into what's required of her paint a more believable picture of her as the woman she's choosing to become. The same could be said for Ty only it's him as father. Basically, it's not all romance--- the things that came before there being a 'them' are still there. And it's how they fit themselves into the other's life that's different.

Thank you, NG! 

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir

Bleed Like MeBleed Like Me by Christa Desir

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Bleed Like Me is not so different from other YA contemporary novels in that it's dark and gritty, except perhaps that more than one character is broken. Yet they're not just broken, for there's an awareness from both- the degree thereto the only variation. Add that they are not alone in being flawed; no one is 'faultless' here.

Yes, the two here are flawed; it's as such that they find the other. We see both their situations become the worst possible ones while together. If at first, her family reads good- adoptive parents of boys who need them- dig deeper and we find the lot of them floundering given all that's required of them, despite the goodness of their intent so that in the midst of that/because of that, her voice is lost. And if at first glance, too- he is a disaster- troubled youth, in conflict with everyone-everything; yet, they are both more than those. Only, it's when they each become become the other's ALL that things take an even darker feel. Yes, it is because of him then, with him, that she finds a measure of better, as does he in her. However, what is better exactly?

She knows from where her actions stem;  she sees her actions framed in what her experience lacked. He too sees her actions as is- not right, aware of the wrongness in the same, yet not putting a stop to it. And why? Like her, he has his issues too. Issues that she slowly becomes aware of. It's in that slow peeling back of layers by both of the other that makes this book what it is- different and truthful and multifaceted- because it's in their day to day, that they both manage to disappear. The business that others face have the two swept aside. It's there that the two begin what's obviously to be a co-dependent then destructive relationship (the latter only becoming evident to one first and then tragically, to the other.) 

The book is already dark with those in mind; but becomes a touch darker with each moment of her giving physical translation to her pain, and as well as of him being 'brave and out there.' Both aspects are felt even more, as there are others not necessarily sweeping them aside but too overwhelmed by things they have to face. In fact, it's this that makes reading BLM frustrating/riveting--- how things could have been otherwise, because there's a slipping through the cracks for both of them.

So, not one is faultless here... him, in goading her on; her, in clinging to him; and all else, in looking the other way (either because they just couldn't be bothered or because there were other things in the way.) Bottom line, BLM is different because it's more than them and their pain; there's the unfortunate truth that underscores its progression because things are allowed to continue- not just by people like the MC's but by the others around them (seeing but failing to act; or worse yet, not seeing at all.) 

Thank you, E! 

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