Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Supreme Disappointment of Being Disappointed

So I just read this book. Well, most of this book at least. I gave up around the 2/3 mark and skipped ahead to find out how it ended. It was a book I'd been looking forward to for ages, one I was so excited about, one by an awesome author. It hit so many of my must-haves.

But I didn't finish the book. I didn't like the book. I was disappointed. I thought there must be more; I thought, really? The dialogue felt stilted. The characters flat. The relationships unformed. It wasn't what I had expected and though I really, really wanted to finish, I also had other books waiting for me.

I hate when that happens. When a book I'm excited about, one I've even been looking forward to, disappoints so wholly. When I don't finish something I was hoping would become a favorite.

You know what I mean, right?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

All the Books (August 24, 2013)

The much-anticipated You Look Different In Real Life, by Jennifer Castle. You can find my review here; unfortunately, though I liked the book, I didn't like it as much as I wanted to. Hopefully at some point this next month I'll get to where I'm actually reading more than <1 book a week, but right now it just doesn't seem to be happening.
Somewhat surprisingly, neither of these interesting-sounding books are contemporaries. A Matter of Days is a post-apocalyptic, disease-has-killed-everyone story of survival with a crazy simple premise. And Anna Jarzab's Tandem is sci-fi dealing with alternate universes. ALTERNATE UNIVERSES. Sign me up.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

review: you look different in real life

You Look Different in Real Life was definitely one of my most anticipated books this year. I had high hopes, high expectations for this incredibly interesting story of a girl (along with four of her classmates) whose life has been, every five years, the subject of a documentary along the lines of the British Up docu-series. (As a side note, I love this series and highly recommend it; many of the films are on Netflix and well worth watching.)

Justine, who has always been the viewers' favorite, is sixteen and facing the third film (Five at Sixteen), but this time she's dreading the camera's intrusion in her life. She's not who she thought she'd be by now, and although she professes to hate the movies and cameras, she also doesn't want to disappoint. This idea of not being who she wanted to be by sixteen is oner that I wish had been explored more in-depth, instead of given only a few lines of space, because it's a really interesting idea to me. Who we are and who we want to be. And, when the whole thing is captured on film for the world to see, how much harder is it? I wanted more of that, which ended up being my big problem with the book; it's full of so much stuff that the really interesting bits ended up buried with the more dramatic plots were what took center stage.

Despite the fact that Justine is the narrator and main character, there are four other important characters in this book, and each of them has their own stories and journeys that the book follows. Unfortunately, many of these stories seemed superflous and not every character shone the way I think they were probably supposed to. Kiera especially seems to be the fifth wheel here; although the big thrust of the main plot comes from her actions, her character is never clearly defined and her storyline seems both too dramatic and too convenient to really have an impact. A few of the events and storylines felt a bit shoehorned in to me: Kiera's story, Felix's (incredibly obvious) twist, Justine's sudden need to film everything when just pages ago she'd hated the cameras. Like I said, there was a lot here, and much of it didn't seem to work.

Which isn't to say the book as a whole didn't work, or that I didn't like it. Because I did. Despite how convenient many of the plot points felt to me, the characters' commitment to each other, even though they didn't all get along day-to-day and even though there had been some pretty big rifts in their friendships, shone through. From the moment the camera crew is back in their lives there's a sort of under-the-surface solidarity between the five docu-stars, almost an us versus them attitude that went far in establishing these characters' lives and relationships. It's Rory (Justine's ex-best friend, who has been diagnosed with Autism since the last film) in particular that brings this unity to the forefront; she sticks with the other four even when it would be so much easier, for so many reasons, to just not. Her matter-of-fact way of stating things is incredibly refreshing in a story where there's so much that goes unsaid.

This is a solid contemporary YA, though not without its faults. To be perfectly honest I think that my issues with it may stem from the fact that it was just a bit more plot-driven than I wanted or was expecting, which is probably going to work for a lot of readers.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

All The Books (August 17, 2013)

Alright, it's sad, but I haven't finished any books this week.

I absolutely loved Diana Peterfruend's first classic reimagining in a sci-fi setting, and I'm really super excited for this one as well. It's a reimagining of The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I haven't read -- but I hadn't read Persuasion either, so that's fine -- and if it's anything like For Darkness Shows the Stars I know it's going to be incredible.

This week the library was having an insane book sale and I managed to get all three of these for under $2, which is most excellent. They aren't books I felt like I needed to buy (although you can probably tell I'm in a bit of a Elin Hilderbrand phase lately), so I'm fully okay with setting them on my shelf where they'll sit until I have nothing else to read.

The title and cover for the third book in the Shatter Me trilogy was revealed -- yay, Ignite Me looks so gorgeous! To be honest I still haven't read Unravel Me (and am not sure if I will, honestly -- when I reread the first book I was surprised by how dark it was and how much I hadn't noticed on my first read). But I loved Shatter Me so so so so much the first time I read it that I'm thinking I may wait until all three are out and then read some reviews and see if I want to read the entire series. I'm super conflicted about these books, to be honest.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tuesday Ten: Books Set Outside of the USA

This week's theme from The Broke and Bookish is "Ten Books With X Setting," and I'm choosing to showcase ten awesome books set outside of the United States. In cases where the books were originally published in another country (hello, Austrailia, land of incredible writers!), I tried to include the foreign title and cover.

1. What Alice Forgot
Liane Moriarty
This Aussie-published novel about a woman who gets a bump on the head and forgets the last decade of her life isn't setting-heavy, but it is set in Australia and it is absolutely wonderful. It's amazing. One of those rare books that I stayed up all night long reading. (Honestly I think I finally forced myself to go to sleep around four in the morning, then woke up at 7-ish and finished the book.)

2. Jellicoe Road (On The Jellicoe Road)
Melina Marchetta
Another Aussie book (you'll notice a definite trend in this post), Jellicoe Road was published originally as On the Jellicoe Road in Australia and unlike What Alice Forgot, the setting plays a huge role. It's another amazing, incredible, I-love-it-so-much book. There must be something in the water down under.

3. Tiger Lily
Jodi Lynn Anderson
Set in Neverland, Tiger Lily is a truly original, awesome take on the tale of Peter Pan. A love story, it tells us, but not like any you've heard. True, that. 

4. Love and Other Perishable Items (Good Oil)
Laura Buzo
Here's Australian book number three. The tagline on this Australian cover says, "A Novel of First Love and Second Thoughts," and that sums up Love and Other Perishable Items/Good Oil so well. The tale of a teenage girl who falls in love with her older coworker isn't nearly as tawdry as it sounds; instead it's well-written, angsty, and impossible. Though I had some conflicted feelings on this one (in spite of how amazing it is, it also has the one thing I really, really hate in YA novels), in the end I can't leave it off this list.

5. Mothership
Isla Neal & Martin Leicht
Set in space. Space! And, oh, it's everything you ever wanted a space-set YA novel to be.

6. Anna and the French Kiss
Stephanie Perkins
Sigh. Paris, Etienne, Anna. You knew this one was coming up, right? In related news: I need that paperback edition in my life.

7. serafina67 *urgently requires life* (Big Woo: My Not-so-secret Teenage Blog)
Susie Day
A UK-set book! Woo! This, my favorite YA novel of them all, is pure pure pure awesome and so wonderfully non-American. *huggles*

8. How I Live Now
Meg Rosoff
Okay so I think this is the original cover for the UK-set (yep, a second one!) How I Live Now. A weird, uneasy, hilarious novel.

9. Bloomability
Sharon Creech
Switzerland! Boarding school! If this list were ranked according to my love for these books, Bloomability would be way up near the top instead of down here at the bottom.

10. Code Name Verity
Elizabeth Wein
Various parts of Europe. Come on, we all love Code Name Verity.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Thoughts on the How I Live Now Trailer

Let's talk about this.

Yep, it's a trailer for the movie based on Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now. And I have some thoughts, so let's get started.

First of all, calls the movie a "doomsday thriller," which is not exactly (or at all) how I ever thought of the book. I mean, yes, I guess it is, but I don't think of explosions and running for your life when I think of HILN. I think of Daisy and Piper eating poisonous mushrooms and Edmund, and the other cousin, the one who doesn't ever talk. I think of how weirdly surreal the whole story is.

Which is what the trailer is missing. From the trailer, this movie looks wholly modern-day and bright and vivid and colorful while I think of the book in muted colors.

There are certain things I'm hoping they don't erase for the movie (her eating disorder and the fact that Edmund is her cousin for two -- those were both really big, really important parts of the novel), and other things that I'm not convinced will translate. I think one of the biggest things that made the book work so well for me was that it was from Daisy's POV. I mean, this is a book that deals with some really really really dark and strange stuff -- war, incest, anorexia, hallucinating because of eating poisonous mushrooms -- but Daisy's personality and attitude make it... not better exactly, but different. Because we're in her mind, we know that she knows how messed up things are and isn't completely off her rocker (mostly though, mostly). In a movie, I don't know that they'll capture that. There are certain lines in the book, certain things Daisy thinks -- her reaction to the soldier being surprised at her cousins smoking and her fervent big-sister-type love for Piper, for instance -- that were just so perfect. How will that fit in a movie? And, if the movie is going to be a "doomsday thriller," will they even try?

Thoughts/expectations for the movie?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

All The Books (August 10, 2013)

This week I read my second Elin Hilderband book, Barefoot. I liked the book a surprising amount, especially considering I disagreed with almost every decision that almost every character made and didn't much care for the characters (with the notable exception of Vicki, the mother with cancer). Based on this book and The Island I think I can say that Hilderbrand's books, for me, are reliably fun and really well-written; I just hope I like the characters and their choices more in the next book I read from her.
I haven't been on Goodreads much this past week, so I didn't add anything new to my wanting list.

Now that I have a J-O-B, I finally let myself buy some new books. You Look Different In Real Life has been on my list ever since I heard about it and I'm so so so excited to finally get to read it. And Such A Rush has such a great premise, so I'm really hoping I end up liking it. It was 75% off at Hastings, so of course I had to buy it; there really was no choice.