Honest and lively YA book reviews
Uhm. Horror. Really?
I don't see well in the dark. I never have done and it freaks me the fuck out. The yard where I keep my horses is not well lit. And unfortunately during winter I have no choice but to be there when it's dark. I go into the barn. I hit the light switch and it takes two agonising minutes for the lights to actually warm up and brighten. In those two minutes all manner of ghastly, icky, terrifying things crawl towards me through the shadows. My chest constricts, a shot of adrenaline bursts through my bloodstream and my eyeballs begin to quiver. I see myself torn apart by ghosts, dragged helpless into some dark corner and left to bleed. I really don't do darkness. This is pathetic as a logical and intelligent adult but this is the price I pay for a dangerously over-active imagination. Of course the lights illuminate and all I'm left with is a barn full of horses quietly chewing on hay looking at me like "What the fuck is your problem" and I glance around, anxious that no-one else has seen my shameful display of completely unfounded fear.
The things I see creeping towards me in the barn, albeit in my imagination, are infinitely more terrifying than anything Kendare Blake created in Anna Dressed in Blood. The horror in this book is massively disappointing. I just failed to be horrified. Sure there's more disembowelment in the book but it just didn't really cut it. Want to read a truly terrifying book? Read Haunted by Chuck Pahlanuik. That's some messed up shit right there. That book is stomach turning. There's things in that book that can never be unread however much I wish it. That book makes me worry for Mr Pahlanuik. But Anna Dressed in Blood? Lame. The description wasn't vivid enough. The events not shocking enough. And I'm not even a fan of horror. You can tell from my nighttime barn-terrors that I am a massive wimp. So to say that I wasn't in the least bit creeped out by this is really saying something.
The story goes that Theseus Cassio Lowood (Cas to his buddies) is ghost-hunter extraordinaire, keeping alive a family occupation following his father's brutal murder 10 years previously. He receives tip-offs and then drags his long suffering, white-witch mother across the country to pursue these deadly apparitions. When he learns about Anna, nicknamed Anna Dressed in Blood - the angriest and most murderous of all his previous assignments - he high-tails in to Thunder Bay, Ontario to take her out. What he discovers there shocks and surprises him (and only him. I was merely vaguely alarmed) when he is forced to confront the deadliest force of them all.
I. Didn't. Hate. This.
I'm just gonna let that sink in for a moment.
I. Didn't. Hate. This.
Maybe I'm sick. Maybe I'm dying. Maybe this is the end. I'm gonna morph into a crazy, screaming, frothing-at-the-mouth Fangirl, the whites of my eyes flashing as I desperately scan the bookstore shelves for anything with even a passing connection to The Mortal Instruments series, hungry for my next Shadowhunter fix. I'm frightening myself. There must be a cure for this affliction?!! I can already feel the change taking hold - Must. Create. Fan. Art. Aargh!!!
I jest, of course. But The Mortal Instruments series seems to have some kind of almost magnetic pull for me. It's like when you pass a car crash on the highway. You really don't wanna look but at the same time you can't look away. You could call it morbid curiosity. Whatever it is, I'm compelled to complete this series. I'm not gonna queue up outside the bookstore in May at midnight, shaking as I wait desperately for my copy of City of Heavenly Fire. But I'll get it. I'll read it. And then maybe we can all move on with our lives. That is, until Cassandra Clare comes up with yet another way to repackage her goddam Harry Potter fan fiction. Please stop Cassandra Clare!! Let me live my life!!
So, City of Glass is set in the ancient Shadowhunter country of Idris where the gang have travelled to discuss with the Clave the whole Valentine debacle. For some reason that is never actually fully expanded on, Simon rocks up, as does Luke and Magnus et al. It's all very contrived. We meet the mysterious Sebastian who is not who he claims to be, Clary sasses anyone who dares cross her path and Valentine has plenty of opportunities to perfect his evil laugh. But I was entertained.
Yeah, yeah I'm copying. Just chill everyone. I love this idea of introductions via 10 random facts started by several awesome Booklikers. So here's mine:
1 - I'm obsessed and I mean obsessed with my creatures. I can't have kids so they are my babies. I have three cats, a dog and two horses and every one of them is a spoiled brat because I just can't bring myself to impose any kind of discipline. So our house is a bit wild most of the time with Hurricane-Kitty tearing through. They are the reason I can't have nice things, but really I'll take my cats over non-broken possessions any day. Which is lucky as when you have three lively, bouncing cats being pursued by a yapping little dog almost constantly, broken possessions are an inevitability.
2 - My husband is almost twice my age. Yeah, this is a pretty big age gap. But I've really never felt it. When you love someone, you love them for who they are regardless of age or colour or background. We've had all the usual "There's no way you can be compatible with someone so much older than you" speech and I've lost a lot of narrow minded friends over my decision. But listen - don't judge others. You'll never live their life, feel their feelings so let's all practice acceptance and tolerance, yeah?
3 - I love to read. Okay, okay. This is a book site. It's a given we all love to read. But I mean I really love it. When my family tore apart and my wonderful mother and beloved sisters who are more than sister's - they're my best friends - left the UK to return home to Canada my heart broke. I'd never felt so alone. But I had a job to finish, horses to compete, a man to marry and school to attend (a college or university education is free here so I'd be dumb not to complete in the UK) and couldn't go with them, so I powered on through. And my greatest comfort of all has been reading. I can escape when I'm reading. No matter how torn up I am, how upset or angry or hurt I feel, I can open a book and get lost inside and just calm the fuck down. I've had a lot of health problems over the past few years and reading takes my mind away from pain and allows me time and headspace to relax.
4 - I used to be a professional show jumper. I'm completely passionate about horses and sure, okay it's a 12 year old girl's hobby but those horses have pulled me through some rough times, kept me focussed and improved my confidence in myself no end. I worked in Canada and here in the UK on several large professional yards and those truly were the best years of my life. I'm fiercely competitive and I get such a massive kick from training and winning. The sense of achievement is second to nothing. I was fucking good too - like damn good and then an injury cut my career short. I got thrown off a bitch of a mare and landed super awkwardly busting my knee up irreparably. I can't keep up the pace required to show jump professionally anymore, and sometimes struggle to do it at all -I damaged my knee pretty much as bad as is possible. It was pretty heart breaking for me but I kept on trucking. I was given two beautiful horses as a gift and enjoy them immensely. I'll just never reach my dreams but sometimes that's just the way the cookie crumbles.
5 - I hate when I can't find something. I'm not talking about some irritation I'm talking blind rage. I will literally tear my apartment to pieces until I find the missing item whatever it is - keys, lighter, sunglasses - there's no peace until that fucker is in my hand. That red mist descends and I can't - I just can't.
6 - I work way too much. Like, 60 hours a week. I'm working as a nursing assistant and am going back to school in September to get my proper nursing degree to become a mental health nurse but at the moment my shifts are wild. Like, five 12 hour nightshifts back-to-back. I'm exhausted all the time as I only sleep around three hours at a time. I've never felt so sick or sleep deprived in my life and my husband tells me to cut it out, but it can't say no. If they need cover I'm their gal!! It's very intense work on a palliative care unit (care of the dying) but it gives me immense satisfaction to offer comfort, support and care to families and patients in their final weeks, days and hours.
7 - I smoke. Yikes!!! How can I smoke in this day and age with all the information that is available educating us on the dangers?!! D'ya know what? I like it, it's soothing (a little like sucking your thumb as a child) and at the end of the day, it's my choice. I'm the only one of my friends who still smokes and I get a lot of stick for it. Some people have this almost overwhelming need to impose their opinions on others. Cut it out. I'm aware, I understand and it's up to me. The UK is such a nanny state, so obsessed with safety and sheltering citizens from dangers lurking around every corner. Whatever happened to choice?! Whatever happened to deciding for myself if something is bad for me?! Just let me live my life!! And no - it's not a metaphor (LOL) I just like it. There's nothing like a cigarette with a cup of tea after a day of hard work.
8 - I love Pringles. Like if I pop, I legit can't stop. That's why I don't have them in the house anymore. If I had them I would eat them. And I would be about 20 stone. So no. No Pringles. They're too damn good.
9 - I'm fiercely feminist. Feminism means equality for all. This is the way I live my life. I get so passionately angry when watching the news, reading the paper or magazines so I don't. I am completely unaware of current affairs (unless it's something huge in which case it usually filters it's way down to me via Tumbr) because I just can't handle the injustices and it makes my jaw ache just thinking about it. I get incredibly outraged on other people's behalf. I hate that we live in a world that still shuns minorities, allows women to do the same job as a man at a considerably lower wage and that feels it has the right to lord over what women do with their bodies. Cut it the fuck out world!! I have to stop. My blood pressure is rising.
10 - I have a small tattoo on my wrist of a Canadian maple leaf to keep me focussed on my goal of returning home from my exile in the UK. Only five more years to go (ugh) although realistically we will most probably end up in America for a few years first as my husband is American and wants to spend some time living closer to his own family for a while. But I'm nothing if I'm not filled with hope and determination.
Hey, so maybe you guys know me a little better now. Looking forward to reading everyone else's lists. This was kinda fun!!
Ciao for now my friends!!
I feel like I read so much I've numbed my brain. I've made it difficult for myself to really feel anything for a character and to become really captivated by a plot. I read and I think. I read and I think. And I begin taking a very clinical view towards fiction - judging the craft, the world-building, the character development from a rather cold standpoint. I can enjoy, very much so, but do I really feel? Not often. Not until a powerful, kick-in-the-ribs kinda book like The Knife of Never Letting Go totally blows me away with the overwhelming feels.
Despite my initial dismay at cracking it open and discovering that goddam dialect and all those fucking misspelled words, which feels like nails scratching a chalk board to me, it really didn't take me long to get the hell over it and just love this novel.
Todd lives on a distant planet where humans have travelled in order to build a better life away from the violence and overcrowding of Old World. Here there is a phenomenon named Noise whereby all the men's thoughts are displayed out loud for everyone to hear. Even the animals have a voice. When Todd is forced to leave his home town one month before his 13th birthday when he will officially become a man, and meets Viola, a girl who's thoughts are silent, he realises that he cannot trust what he has been led to believe is true about his hometown, Prentisstown. The two of them embark on an epic and dangerous journey to find safety and freedom from the madmen that hunt them, discovering along the way that the world is far more than they ever imagined.
There's something about teenagers I find wholly obnoxious. Maybe it's the undeserved attitude of self righteousness. Maybe it's the insistence that no-one understands them. Maybe it's the belief that everything they are doing right now individually, is more vitally important than anything else that other people are achieving. Maybe it's the intensity with which they go about their daily lives. Maybe it's their penchant for obsession and over philosophical analysation of every situation they find themselves in. Well heads up guys: the world is a pretty big place. There are seven billion of us sharing this atmosphere and we've all been teenagers. There's nothing mystical about being sixteen, seventeen or eighteen. And believe me, these are not the most important years of your life. These are in fact, your final years of being able to make a giant cock-up and it having next to no consequence in your later life. So guys, instead of moping, why not enjoy this freedom. I can assure you, only at 17 will you be able to drive 1100 miles, surviving on your parents money to search for some girl you don't even know. Only at 17 will you have to time to wander around an abandoned mini-mall staring at the walls and noticing the way the starlight plays out across the dusty floor. Only at 17 will you have the energy to stay up drinking until 5am and have friends with enough time, loyalty and stupidity to arrive to scrape you off the floor and pick a glued-on beer can off your hand. So hey - here's an idea: quit being so hard done by. Go to fucking school, enjoy your friends and your goddam free time and be super grateful that your parents will pay for college and a pissing car and stop trying to find more meaning than there is your fucking "paper" life. Because the meaning will come, my friends. Having only 17 years of experience at life is not the time to be searching for it.
Of course, I don't refer to every teenage alive. There are some people who have struggled. And I acknowledge and respect that. But the people who work their damn asses off, the people who have to fight to get what they want, the people who pull themselves up out of a toxic situation and make changes off their own backs are generally not the kind of people who drive around, using their parents gas to explore abandoned subdivisions and then create some deep and philosophical meaning for their actions. No these are the people who just live their goddam life. Who achieve something, who are down to earth and realistic and switched on and who get shit done.
Sadly Paper Towns by John Green is about the first kind of teenager.
Quentin is your average high school kid, middle of the road in the pecking order with a few good friends, average grades and loving parents. He has had a crush on his next door neighbour, Margo Roth Spieglman forever and when she disappears following a whirlwind night of pranks and hi-jinks on which she insists Quentin (nicknamed Q) accompanies her, Q is left puzzled, hurt and afraid for her safety. He discovers clues she left, breadcrumb style just days before she vanished and with the help of his friends Ben, Radar and Lacey he sets out to discover her whereabouts, along the way realising that she wasn't the girl he thought he knew.
(There are some mild spoilers in here. Just chill - I said mild)
I was so disappointed with Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. Like, crushingly disappointed. It was the same kind of disppointment I feel when I make soft boiled eggs and I leave them in the pan moments too long so that when I crack them open I discover the yolk has set (I take breakfast very seriously)
I was expecting the same level of adorably, squishy, heart-felt loveliness to be found in Fangirl but instead Eleanor and Park fell flat for me with it's drawn out, awkward romance, squirmy instalove and eye-rollingly embarrassing stereotypes.
Eleanor and Park's relationship felt to me like two corks in a bathtub - two separate, stiff, dry objects bumping into each other occasionally when they are tossed together by nothing more than the waves of their environment. I felt no connection to them, no warmth for their growing love for each other. I felt like they were thrown together by mere circumstance. They spot each other across the aisle of the crowded school bus, the stench of vicious teens out for the blood of the New Girl, Eleanor hot in the air. Park catches sight of her head of flaming red hair, her pirate outfit, her strangeness. Does he ask himself "Who is this intriguing, bold, chaotic girl?" Does he vow to learn more about her, for her oddity makes her fascinating? Does he attempt to catch her eye, for he must know her, he must discover her secrets, hear her story? No:
""Sit down," he said. It came out angrily. The girl turned to him, like she couldn't tell wether he was another jerk or what. "Jesus-fuck," Park said softly, nodding to the space next to him, "just sit down,""
Delightful. However, instead of telling him to, as we say here in Scotland get tae fuck Eleanor and he fall deeply and irrevocably in love in the time it takes me to blink. I genuinely thought I had missed something. One moment Park is ashamed to be seen just sitting near Eleanor, the next moment he's sharing comic books with her and drop kicking some dude outside the high school because he disrespected her. I hate instalove with a violent passion. It's lazy, it's nonsensical and it's basically missing a trick. The way people fall in love and get to know one another makes for a great story. Why do authors insist on sweeping over relationship origin stories, scrawling it on the page in thick felt tip, where it requires to be written delicately with a feathered quill. People are fascinating, complicated and intricate. But when instalove is rammed into a plot line all this depth of character and complexity is entirely obliterated. People rarely do things just becuz (unless they are following the ancient teachings of YOLO) so why authors attempt to write characters that behave this way and then expect us to believe in them is really beyond me.
“For the record I don't believe in Fate. I believe that the pieces have been placed. The ending hasn't been written yet.”
There's something about Greek mythology that I love. I don't know if it's all the freaky shit that goes down. I don't know if it's the relationships between the different characters which tend to be equal parts intriguing, fantastical and absurd. I don't know if it's the interesting, imaginative and creative way which these stories were told and used in an attempt to explain the way the world around us works in a time when scientific knowledge was limited. Or maybe it's just the fact that anything can happen, no matter how bizarre. Either way I think it's awesome and fascinating and I feel like Kendare Blake does a great job in Antigoddess bringing this mythology into the present day, adding a modern spin to the idea of the gods while maintaining each character's traditional traits and roles.
I actually love this book. I love it. It's speaks to me. It's sings the song of it's people to me - a little tune named Greek mythology.
It's an awesome portrayal of the well known characters of the Greek gods and their colleagues embarking on a kickass, cross country adventure of awesomeness:
Cassandra is a prophetess. She has terrifying visions of a bleak future which she struggles to make sense of, as well as being able to call the outcome of a coin toss every freaking time. She's living her life, chilling in her high school completely unaware of her own and her boyfriend, Aiden's importance in a changing world. Meanwhile, Athena and Hermes supposedly immortal gods, are dying - dying fast, along with the other gods of Greek lore in a host of freakishly delightful ways and are running out of time to find a cure for their deadly problem. When all their lives collide can Cassandra's powers win out over thousands of years of fate? Ooh - Shit. Just. Got. Interesting.
***There are massive spoilers ahead. You have been warned.***
So, you know that feeling you get when water starts inexplicably pouring through the ceiling and you're powerless to do anything other than place a yellow Moshi Monsters bucket beneath the deluge and pray to all the gods that the flood will dry up because you've already begged the apartment upstairs three times to call a plumber, and they've lied each time, promising they're on it, and then one of your cats for some reason known only to felines, makes the decision to get into the bucket, panics when he feels the water dripping on his head and flies out, tipping the bucket over and spraying water everywhere, then proceeding to dash around the house shaking and drenching all your belongings including a £four-and-a-half thousand leather couch? You know - that feeling? That's the same feeling I got whilst reading Wither (albeit on a smaller scale) of despair, helplessness and then uncontrollable desperate laughter, because really - what else can you do but laugh until your sides hurt when the whole debacle is this ridiculous?!!
Wither by Lauren Destefano is a red hot mess. I award one star for the beauty and theatre of the cover but my fondness for this book ends there. Let's not forget that beauty is after all, only skin deep. Or in this case, one-thickness-of-cardboard-cover deep.
We begin by meeting Rhine, our pure hearted heroine after she is kidnapped and chosen to be a child bride to the inexplicably stupid, Linden along with two other girls - Cecily and Jenna. The girls are forced to live an imprisoned life at Linden's beautiful estate of lies under the watchful eye of his father, Vaughn who hides some supposedly dark secrets. A whole lotta shit goes down as Rhine battles for her freedom and makes a half hearted attempt to wrestle with her conscience. Or something or nothing.
(Most anticipated = most YA books added on Goodreads as of January 27th, 2014 when we collected the data. View the entire list and see how the rankings have changed here.)
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Life is so hard. There's just so much of it. There's complicated relationships, credit cards, gas stations, public restrooms, mortgages, clothes that don't fit, cats that cry all night, hateful bosses, insurance (Is it a scam? It feels like a scam), torrential rain, house spiders (that a wild animal has the audacity to simply move into my home astounds me), chest infections, water inexplicably dripping through the ceiling, smashed mugs, missing library cards, neighbours who talk to their hands, the ocean, unaffordable dental surgery, university interviews - the list is endless. It's easy to feel overwhelmed. Because on top of all these niggling worries, dreads, fears and confusions we've got this necessity foisted upon us to appear as if we've got out shit together. I want to tell you all a little secret - it's okay. It's all okay.
It's okay if you have a solid career, you own your own home and have substantial savings by the age of 25. But, it's also okay if you still want to spend everyday in your owl pyjamas, if you are working a minimum wage job because you have yet to choose a career, if you want to eat pizza and ice cream and watch every Harry Potter movie all over again. It's okay if you don't go to wine parties and you don't own a pair of high heels. It's okay if you put comfort first and fashion last. It's okay if you don't feel like going any further than the living room today. And it's also okay if you feel like roaming around. Not doing anything. It's all okay.
I hate how much time people seem to spend on comparing themselves to others. "I should have a promotion by now!" they cry. "I should be in a solid, steady relationship!" or "I should have "cultured" interests!"
I would ask right back attcha: Why?!!
Why do you have to be hitting a certain "milestone" (who came up with these fucking milestones anyway?!! Damn them!! Damn them all to hell!!) at a certain age? Why do you have to have a husband or a house or a career by the time you're 30? Who came up with this idea that we all have to follow some uniform life plan?
I say screw your fucking life plan. Screw that sucker up and toss it right in the trash alongside "You must have a baby because you have a womb" and "Why haven't you learned to drive?! You're 24 years old!!" and "Oh. You still haven't made it to university yet huh?"
Everyone is unique. Everyone has their own perspective on life, their own expectations, their own dreams. No-one should ever be made to feel like they're a failure because they refuse to adhere to the tradition of school-job-husband-kids step-by-step guide for a successful life that would get your grandmother to stop rolling her eyes and sighing if you'd only just stick to the plan.
I digress and I rant. What I'm trying to say is how much I adore Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell for letting us know "Hey, it's okay to be different" in a gentle, beautifully ordinary and relatable way.
Cath, our adorable heroine sets off to college with her twin sister full to bursting with social anxiety, dread and discomfort. She has no confidence in new situations, worries constantly and seems to have no plans beyond taking it one wobbly day at a time. But she does have her fan fiction. Cath is border-line obsessed with fictional character, Simon Snow and his magical adventures in a world of mages, wands, spells and friendship. She finds enormous comfort and peace in getting lost in her epically popular writing as her merry band of loyal internet followers cheer her on. However, real life looms large over Cath and as her sister Wren throws herself headlong into the fray, Cath struggles to come to terms with growing up and branching out.
My partner and I love to take road trips. Sometimes for a specific reason, sometimes for no reason at all except to feel a little freer. It can be a bit claustrophobic living downtown, all the buildings pressing in on you and surrounded by neighbours who talk to their hands and insist on leaving couches lying in the street outside our apartment building. A couch has no place outdoors. However, I don't drive. So it's always left down to my partner to get us safely to out destination and scarily this can be somewhat dicey as he always, inexplicably falls asleep at the wheel. I'm not talking after hours of driving in the dark, the street lights all bleeding into one as his eyes grow heavy due to the endless concentration. I'm talking about at like, 2 o'clock in the afternoon, an hour into our journey. I ask him why?!! How does this happen every time?!! He tells me the motion of the car, the sounds of the engine lull him to sleep. What?!! My partner has been driving for 25 years, you'd think he would have learned by now that whilst driving is not an ideal time to take a nap. It's kind of a necessity that while your controlling what is potentially a lethal weapon weighing over a ton that you fucking stay awake!! So my task for our little impromptu trips is always to shake him every 10 minutes, open and close the windows and crank the radio right up. Sorta takes some of the magic out of the day when I'm wondering at what point we're gonna end up in the ditch.
You know another situation where it's beneficial not to fall asleep? Whilst reading. Sure, it's not life threatening if you happen to nod off with a book in your hand, but it sure helps you make some headway into the story if every time you pick it up, the next thing you remember is not waking up in a puddle of drool, a painful crick in your neck and desperately wondering what you're now late for this time.
Claire de Lune is like a sedative. Every time I sat down to read it my head grew heavy, my limbs turned to lead, my breathing got deeper until I was fast asleep and my pets saw their opportunity to sink their claws into my leather couch, eat my house plants and play all the other pranks they delight in having me wake up to when they spy that I decided to take an afternoon nap. If you have trouble falling asleep, your problems will be over if you pick up this book.
You'll also enjoy it if you love reading about constant mother-daughter arguments, diving into giant plot holes and logic leaps and listening to a teenager angst and fret for 336 pages. If this doesn't sound like your idea of an engaging and enthralling adventure, then step away from the book.
Claire is having just the bestest time ever at her wicked 16th birthday party when - Oh My Gawd - she begins turning into a werewolf, all the while falling for Hawt Matthew. Claire's mother reveals that night that her family are part of an ancient bloodline of werewolves, all the women beginning their transformation at 16 years old. All of a sudden Plain Claire's life gets a lot more interesting - she must learn to deal with the reality of her true identity and figure out a way to keep it a secret from nice-but-dull Matthew and her best friend, Stereotype Emily. And the worst of it? There's a rogue werewolf on the loose, murdering innocent townspeople and Matthew's father, as some top scientist guy, is leading the hunt to track down and rid the town of werewolves forever.
If you loved Twilight, I've got a feeling you'll hate The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa. There's vampires in both. And a bland love interest. That's where the similarities end. Because where Twilight is packed with simpering, soggy romance, hormonal staring and shivering, The Immortal Rules is filled with bloodied heads rolling along dusty floors, wild eyed zombies clawing for a beating heart to chew on and burning buildings collapsing to ash around us.
Allison is a street kid, struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world ruled by vampires. Humans live a caged existence, trapped in cities under the guise of protection by the vampires from the Rabids, that prowl beyond the wall, created by Red Lung virus which has swept the earth, killing the vast majority of the population. In reality, these humans are used like cattle as a source of food for the vampires who bleed the Registered regularly to sustain themselves, leaving the Unregistered, like Allison to fend for themselves, starving and without shelter. Following a near-death experience, Allison is transformed into a vampire by the formidable master vampire, Kanin only to be driven from the city, alone in the wilderness when it transpires that he is the most wanted vampire in the city due to his involvement in the downfall of humanity. Wandering and somewhat desperate, Allison happens upon a band of travelling humans searching for the safety of Eden, a city apparently existing without vampire intervention where humans can live free and at peace. A whole lotta shit goes down as Allison struggles to hang on to her humanity as the monster inside her becomes increasingly desperate to be released.
When I was a kid I had this friend who was convinced she was going to be Hermione Granger. No, she didn't believe she was Hermione Granger in some weird delusional fantasy. She was going after the part in the movie.
I'm an age whereby I grew up alongside Harry Potter and we were around the right age that when the movie rolled around for production it was feasible that this girl would be the correct age to play Hermione. She had been attending acting classes three times a week since before she was born. She took voice classes after school every Friday. She danced, she was well read, she even gradually changed her look until she was embodying the lovably geeky character of Miss Granger, straggly mousy brown hair and all. It was kinda unsettling. This was real dedication in action. There was nothing this kid wanted more than to be in that movie. I'm pretty sure she would have gladly sold her soul for her dream. I'm almost certain she would not have hesitated to kill a man with her bare 12 year old hands to secure herself a role.
This is all fine. But the not so fine part was that she had absolutely no doubt in her mind that it was in the bag, therefore setting herself up for massive disappointment. In her opinion, the fates had already decided it: she would be Hermione Granger. After all, she had spent her whole life preparing for the moment her audition turned out to be a resounding success and the casting agents turned to her and said "Congratulations child, you in!!" Her parents didn't really help. They grasped every chance they got to tell this girl how incredibly gifted she was, how wonderful she was, how heads turned when she walked by, how the angels themselves had delivered her to earth to walk amongst us petty humans and change all our lives by portraying Hermione Granger in a dazzling, Oscar-worthy performance that would win the hearts of the nation, no - win the hearts of the world. So off they popped to the audition of the century. Look - my childhood friend wasn't Emma Watson so the tale ends with this girl returning home rather sheepishly after previously proclaiming she was set to be the Next Big Thing in the movie industry, mumbling "I didn't get it" to all those brave enough to ask how her audition went. It was a shame. But no shocker.
I was reminded of this poor let down kid - who went on to become the most cynical, jaded adult on the planet - by this quote from the sweet, fun Geek Girl by Holly Smale:
"I know a lot about stories and magic - thanks to reading lots of books and also belonging to a forum on the internet - and the most basic rule is that it has to come as a surprise. Nobody hopped into a wardrobe to find Narnia; they hopped in thinking it just a wardrobe. They didn't climb up the Faraway Tree, knowing it was a Faraway Tree; they thought it was just a really big tree. Harry Potter thought he was a normal boy. Mary Poppins was supposed to be a regular nanny.
It's the first and only rule. Magic comes when you're not looking for it."
So this isn't bookish in the slightest, but I had to share. I finally got my Christmas present from my amazing hubby and she's the most awesome gift ever !!! This is Luna. She's a 9 week old oriental shorthair and I think I'm in love. I'm kinda obsessed with these cats - we also have Loki who looks a bit shocked to find himself with a new little sis in the second picture. I think I'm slowly turning into Crazy Cat Lady with this third cat in our household, but you know what? I'm totally fine with it !!!
I hate when I can't find something. No. I think you misunderstand me - I hate when I can't find something. I will literary tear my apartment to pieces, a vein throbbing on my forehead, hands shaking, a cold sweat breaking out on my back before collapsing in a sobbing, retching heap on the floor if I can't find something (and then I discover that my sunglasses were on my head all along. And then someone has to die) Missing objects are the bane of my existence. I once lost my favourite mittens at the train station. I watched them waiting forlornly on the bench on the platform as the train pulled away, my nose pressed to the glass in anguish, a solitary tear sliding mournfully down my pale cheek as I came to the realisation that they would never again grace my freezing hands. That was a bad day.
I fall apart over lost socks, keys, lighters and cups. So I can only imagine how Nora Grey must be despairing over her missing brain. That's a pretty massive thing to become separated from. But there's really no other explanation for her absurd behaviour other than being clinically declared brain-dead. Pull the plug guys, she's long gone.
This time round, Nora appears to have some kind of episode or something, breaks up with the delightful Patch, and then wallows in regret for the remainder of the book, all the while blaming everyone's favourite fallen angel. I guess she's also suffering memory loss - Nora!! You ended it with him, you dumb broad!! There's all the usual shenanigans - some jolly slut shaming, Fat Vee trying desperately hard (and failing) to be funny and Nora whining about how badly she needs a job, getting one (following the most lax job interview ever) and then managing to only complete one solitary shift before skipping off into the night, never to be seen by her employers again (yeah, that's one restaurant she'll never be able to show her face at again) - culminating in, once again, Nora fighting her for life at the hands of yet another fallen angel (why are so many of the population of Coldwater angels in disguise?!) this time in the cellars of Ye Olde Amusement Park (apparently, amusement parks have cellars? Who knew?!) built by none other than - yup, you guessed it - the fallen angels!! I guess they had time on their hands? Or a passion for cheap, salmonella laden hot dogs and rickety death traps rides?
I have two major problems with this book: the world building, and Aria's mother, Lumina.
The world building? No. Lame. Everything that could have been interesting was fluffed over and everything boring as fuck was foisted on us for around 75% of the story, a very large part of this being made up of a bunch of people walking through the woods.
Aria is banished from her home Reverie, forced to leave the safety of the pods to the Outside - a futuristic vision of the world scorched and burned, reduced to ashes by devastating Aether storms (some sort of electrical storm? With a tornado element? Was it raining fire? I don't know. Does anyone?) Anxious to find her way home and discover the whereabouts of her long lost mother, Aria meets Perry, an Outsider, who is desperately seeking his nephew kidnapped by scientific researchers of the pods. They form an uneasy alliance when they realise they need each other to reach their goals. And because this is YA, naturally they fall for each other.
I wished I'd been informed before I began reading Under The Never Sky that a huge portion of the book is dedicated to describing Perry and Aria's wilderness survival adventure. I live downtown. I like being surrounded by concrete and solid buildings and people. I'm also a vegetarian so I have absolutely no desire to read about trekking through woodland, slicing creatures throats open (Aria stabs a goddam badger for fucks sake!! Like honestly? No. This kind of thing? Not for me) and building fires and how to tell poisonous berries apart from non-poisonous berries? Stop, Veronica Rossi. Just stop.
This not only came across as so boring I wanted to eat my face, but also kinda smelled like some really lazy world building. Instead of having us explore the inside of the pods, which would have been far more interesting, giving us a glimpse of Rossi's ideas for futuristic technology and how these pods would manage to maintain self sufficiency, we were treated to a cross country hike. We already have woods in this life. We have trees, we have goddam lakes and grass and shit - give us something new to read about!! I love anything set in the future because there really is the chance for the author to let their imagination go wild. I love hearing about people's different ideas of what could exist and their interpretation of what society may become. This is what I was expecting from Under The Never Sky - not historical fiction, which is what it wound up feeling like with all the bows and arrows, wolf skin clothing, stone cottages and whatnot. It was like reading about goddam medieval times with their fucking deer roasting over a damn spit. There's nothing fresh or surprising about the world Rossi has created. It's just Generic Ye Olde Village, populated with a few people who can smell things really well.