5 Stars

[Review] The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

TThe Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavenderhe Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Series: None
Publication: March 27th, 2014 by Candlewick Press
Number of Pages: 301
Genre: Magical Realism, Fantasy, YA, Romance, Historical
Source: Public library
Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.
Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.
In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.
That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.
First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.

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[Review] Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

Series: None

Publication Date: October 22nd, 1999

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux

Number of Pages: 197

Source: Public library

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country.

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[ARC Review] A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic, #1)

Author: V.E. Schwab

Series: A Darker Shade of Magic #1

Publication Date: February 24th, 2015

Publisher: Tor Books

Number of Pages: 400

Genre: Adult, Fantasy, YA

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London – but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.

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This Side of Salvation – Jeri Smith-Ready

This Side of Salvation

This Side of Salvation

Author: Jeri Smith-Ready

Publish Date: April 1st,2014

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Everyone mourns differently. When his older brother was killed, David got angry. As in, fist-meets-someone-else’s-face furious. But his parents? They got religious. David’s still figuring out his relationship with a higher power, but there’s one thing he does know for sure: The closer he gets to new-girl Bailey, the better, brighter, happier, more he feels.

Then his parents start cutting all their worldly ties to prepare for the Rush, the divine moment when the faithful will be whisked off to Heaven…and they want David to do the same. David’s torn. There’s a big difference between living in the moment and giving up his best friend, varsity baseball, and Bailey—especially Bailey—in hope of salvation.

But when he comes home late from prom, and late for the Rush, to find that his parents have vanished, David is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined…


Review

The story opens up with the after party of prom. The party is reported by the cops and David and his sister Mara return home to find that their parents have disappeared. The two believe at first that they have been Rushed and are in heaven upon finding their clothing laid out in bed. But on closer investigation, they realize that there are some other aspects manipulating them and what has happened.

From here the story progresses in a before-and-after format, skipping back to nine years prior to what David refers to as “The Rush”. Starting from here, David tells the story of how his family began to spiral downwards and how his parents came to join a cult. Originally, his family was completely normal. That was, until his older brother, John, died while in the military. His father became a drunkard and David’s family was in turmoil for years. Then, one day, his parents discovered God and changed. No longer did his father drink, but instead he preached, speaking in Bible quotes. His father acted as if he had never had a second son, but only David. It was his own strange way of coping with the death of his firstborn. David’s life was completely changed. His parents were difficult to communicate with and his sister, Mara, ended up completely ignoring them altogether. As his parents change churches and eventually join the cult founded by Sophia Visser, David questions his faith and belief in Sophia as well as God and by now, he will do anything to have his old family back.

At first, I was not too into the book. I, personally am not a religious person at all and because of this I went into the book thinking that it was going to be about they were saved because most books that I have seen dealing with the Rapture were dealt with in this way. And at first, that was what the book seemed to be like as I first began reading it.

I was completely wrong.

The book was told from the point of a view of a Christian that did not believe in the Rapture. While his parents were dedicated to planning for the Rapture, David was more focused on living in the present and for the future that he might have if the Rush did not happen. It used the idea of the Rapture to write a story about a boy that was recovering from his brother’s death and finding himself. This Side of Salvation is not focused on the religious aspect so much as it is on the characters and their growth and this was something that I loved about the book.

David was an amazing protagonist and I absolutely loved his sister, Mara and his best friend, Kane. Their relationships were genuine and part of the best aspects of the book. The relationship between Mara and David was realistic. They called each other names, argued, did all the things that siblings did, and most importantly, had each others backs in the end. David and Kane had the type of best friend relationship that every person deserves to have.

The characters were so realistic. They are well developed and relatable. David acted like a teenage boy. His emotions and thoughts were characteristic of what a boy his age would do. His confusion on his values and beliefs made the book that much better.

The before-and-after format effectively tells the story, and foreshadows multiple scenes in the book. And while the book was slow in the beginning, it quickly picked up as more is revealed about what exactly happened to their parents.

While This Side of Salvation may not appeal to those that believe in the Rush, it’s definitely worth a read for those that don’t.

5/5 Stars

Complicit – Stephanie Kuehn

Complicit

Author: Stephanie Kuehn

Publish Date: June 24th, 2014

Genre: YA, Thriller, Mystery, Realistic Fiction


Review

WHERE DO I EVEN BEGIN?

I didn’t put the summary on this post because this is a book you have to go into not knowing ANYTHING.

Okay so I started this book to try to get out of a reading funk induced by Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road (which you should also go read). Unfortunately for me, the book induced an even bigger book hangover ;__;

ON TO THE REVIEW.

Complicit was a fantastic book. Well thought-out and with excellent, excellent characterization. Jamie was flushed out well by the time I was fifty pages in and each of the other characters are characterized in some way that brings them to life. Well, the important ones at least. I kind of liked the contrast between the characterization, now that I think of it. I feel like that by leaving some of the background characters flatter, it puts the spotlight on the relationship between Cate and Jamie and also allows the reader to seriously feel and experience the way that Jamie’s mind worked. My heart broke for Cate. For such a short novel, Kuehn did a really nice job of making the characters come alive. The book starts quite slow, but if you hang in there, the ending of the book is definitely worth the read. The foreshadowing is really well done. The plot seems dull when in reality, small events are happening without the reader even realizing it. Kuehn was very subtle about it.

Kuehn did a great job of throwing the reader for a loop. Throughout the course of the book, I had about three to four different theories about what the end was about, but nothing could compare to my reaction when I actually finished it.

For me, the ending of the book was what really made it such a great read. Kuehn packs a lot into a short two-hundred and fifty page novel and because of this, the ending was a little bit rushed. Execution could have been a little more clean, and I wasn’t too happy when the book suddenly ended. It was extremely abrupt especially considering that it didn’t pick up until the end. (But honestly, by the end of the book I could care less about the writing. The plot was just so good!). I HAD to know what happened next, but it was over.

I can’t reveal too much without ruining the read. Complicit is one of those books where it’s better to go into it not knowing anything about it. But needless to say, it’s a great book, extremely unique, and worth a read for anybody.

5/5 Stars

Jellicoe Road – Melina Marchetta

Jellicoe Road

jellicoe road cover

Author: Melina Marchetta

 

Publish Date: March 9th, 2010

 

Genre: YA, Contemporary

In this lyrical, absorbing, award-winning novel, nothing is as it seems, and every clue leads to more questions.

At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor’s the reluctant leader of her school’s underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can’t avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future.


Review

I loved this book. Everything is just so well thought-out and the FEELS. Oh my gosh the feels that I get from this book.

“She stares at me for a moment, a cold angry look on her face. A look I’ve never seen before. ‘You know your problem?’ she asks quietly. ‘It’s that you’re never interested in what anyone else is feeling. What I was trying to say before you rudely, as usual, interrupted me, is that all of us are worried about you, not about this situation, and we think you should just try to get some sleep and let us take over but you don’t care because the difference between you and us is that you fly with…with…I-Don’t-Give-a-Shit Airline and we fly with a friendlier one.'”

Things like this quote are what made this book such a great experience. The characters are so realistic and amazingly written. The relationships aren’t forced and the humor is one of the best parts. When was the last time you’ve heard someone say “I-Don’t-Give-a-Shit Airline”? Everything in the book makes you feel. The awkward moments feel substantially awkward. The happy moments feel happy. The book makes you really appreciate the characters and writing. Reading about how Taylor has changed over the course of the novel was really entertaining.

Every character is developed thoroughly and I absolutely loved all of them. Taylor was a fantastic character. She was flawed, she was realistic, and she changed for the better. Each character had dimension and was believable. They had flaws, they had strengths, and each of them were distinct. The best part of the book wasn’t just the characters, but the relationships they had. There were friendships, couples, family, and everything in-between. All of it was handled so well. The characters themselves, are reason enough to pick up this book.

The plot is really great, although it’s confusing in the beginning. The book reveals the story layer by layer and it’s an amazing reading experience. As you continue to read, you’ll have moments of realization where everything begins to click together and moments where you’ll squeal over the sweet interactions. It’s just planned really well and written so that it keeps it’s mysterious feel. It’s an amazing read that will keep you intrigued throughout.

This book was heartwarming, a book that everybody should read at least once. The characters and plot will stay with you. And while it won’t make you cry, it will have the same effect on you as any tear-jerker will.

5/5 Stars