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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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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Friday, July 18, 2014

The Jewel (The Lone City, #1) by Amy Ewing

The Jewel (The Lone City, #1)The Jewel by Amy Ewing

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Maaaaaaaan. Why do I feel like I've read bits and pieces of this book in other better told stories? I have yet to read Selection... so that's not it. But this has me thinking of Wither meets something meets something else. Despite this odd feeling of I've read (all) this before, overall I'm feeling 'Meh' over all of it. Mainly because there were so many elements to Jewel that it might have been better a reading experience had one or two or three things been taken out.

And what do we have? Royal blood line that's going to end if *gasp* no one is there to carry on said line. By some twist of fate/accident of science/something it's Violet and those like her  ("Surrogates") that can do the job. Also, Violet and girls like her magical. To this last we have them able to control "auguries" of color/shape/growth. Then all these take place in a world that's split in areas that include the Marsh, the Smoke, The Farm, the Bank, the Jewel... so predictably named that I wondered over why they the distinctions were even made. And in this already divided world, we have the Royals whose various lineage were likewise predictably named that I didn't even bother to keep track. And then throw in ladies in waiting -who weren't ladies, companions, and a host of other secondary characters all of whom serving the purpose of amping up the creepy. But failing to do so.

Given all those of those could have have been's: not much of this worked for me. Hell, not  even the 'surprise' romance between her and the one like her. And why? There were too many things going on;  a consequence we end up with a story wanting to tell too many things all at once so that it's personality and possibility was lost along the way.

But thank you, Edelweiss!

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

LandlineLandline by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Set aside the magic phone, it’s apparent that Landline is love and the issue of it being sufficient. My first encounter with Rowell was E & P. The pair there had me enamored; mere mentions of a certain time had me happy. This experience I immediately followed up with Fangirl. There I found myself likewise enamored with the odd yet endearing people that story was filled with.  Now, cute and odd as both those stories were, it was Attachments that clinched things. The one-two punch of pure nostalgia then pure ordinariness of the way they could all be is what worked for me.

There’s a little bit of the last in this; and despite the magic that could be that the phone in this served, Landline is less the about oddness that that represented AND more about the real connections, honest conversations, and deep-deep (as well as not-so-deep) musings they were all engaged in, particularly Georgie McCool.

Landline was all about Georgie: her life, her feelings on where her life was, how her life with Neal had turned up. Then there’s Neal as well: Neal of present and Neal of past…. both versions as seen through Georgie’s eyes. Only not just.

As in all her previous works, there were all those authentic connections made even more real with each moment one party had with another. There’s her link to her “partner.” (And no, it’s not Neal.) There’s that link she has with her family- each member remarkable one way or another- as well.  But mostly, it’s that connection she had with Neal~ where they came from and where they were now… and mostly, whether “love” as her sister asked it sufficed.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Out of the EasyOut of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

That Jo is aware and not just of herself, but of the people around her and the circumstances as well as expectations she has and others have, is but one positive. That the place and the time come clear across is another. That Out of the Easy is not a one-track story of down-on-her luck girl trying to get out of where she’d started is yet another of its many selling points.

What we have is a very easy to like teenage girl who knows who she is, where she comes from, but does not flounder because of it. There’s honesty to her portrayal. Things aren’t all roses, true. She acknowledges the same, but isn’t limited by it as she works through and does what she has to and the same time keeps herself to what could be. Her juggling things as she does gets even more interesting with a mysterious death that pulls her in.

It’s that last complication that allow for the place and the time to become even easier to imagine. In getting to answers she’s not sure she wants, she comes up against certain characters, and those plus the people she works with as well as those already in her neighborhood make for a colorfully vivid image of New Orleans in the 50’s.

Yet more interesting: with each answer obtained, we have more and more instances of her doubting, questioning, wondering what the effects all these truths had on her and hers. So no, it’s not just Jo; it’s her and her family – the one she’s been born into and the one of her making.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Live (Burnside, #1) by Mary Ann Rivers

Live (Burnside, #1)Live by Mary Ann Rivers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

LIVE includes a before and after; there’s how his before could be their after. Given both, what we have are two leads perfect in how real they’re laid bare. Every single aspect of this- him, her, and then them; as well as the people that surround them and the place (then places) they find themselves in- all of it are so perfectly drawn and made possible as a result.

HIM and HER. As said, his before, their after… or the possibility of that that has them being cautious then later not cautious at all. It’s a different story as what they are is never a simple one plus then two; there’s tremendous placed on weighing what is, what could be, as well as who they are; there’s thoughtful consideration on what they need versus what they want.

A BEGINNING. There’s simplicity to the start as River’s sets the two of them up on mutual attraction, but does not stop there; because it’s their slow getting to know the other that charges things further. It’s a newness that’s shadowed though by their pasts. So that this easy new thing that’s lovely, is not always that because of what they know and what they’ve learned: she and her family, has her pegged “the responsible one’; him and his past, has him more cautious about wanting-needing-sacrificing.

EVENTUALLY though it’s them working around those same things to see more in themselves  --- maybe first in the other and later in their own person.  Because the IN-BETWEEN? It’s that which has them exploring possibilities -- and me, swooning over their choice of words even their descriptions of event and action. There’s a quite quality to goings-on; the way they open to each other, allowing themselves a glimpse of each other’s past + character.

It’s all slow and soft but all that’s mixed together with their passion as they explore both the physical alongside the emotional. And all that, again, has me swooning as one look, touch, word between the two, about the other, for the other, allows so much to expressed, like those on Here and There and not being where you ought be; on Wanting and Needing; on  Smiles against kisses. Kisses against grins.

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