Monday, 24 September 2012

Review: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan


(image and summary from goodreads, eARC courtesy of NetGalley)

Summary:

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

My thoughts:

I used to get confused when I read reviews that said the author had not mastered the ‘show, don’t tell’ aspect of writing. After reading Unspoken however, I think I get what those writers meant, though Sarah Rees Brennan certainly belongs to the group that ‘shows’. The descriptions were spot on, so much so you can almost see the mist emanating when the characters speak, and hear the twigs crunch beneath their feet. In fact, so lovely were the descriptions that I wish I could visit Sorry-In-The-Vale, creepy as it may be! Paranormal romance seems to be the ‘in’ genre these days, and it was refreshing to see an original idea in the midst of the werewolf/vampire onslaught. 

I did have a few minor issues and I almost feel guilty bringing them up because there was hardly anything to complain about at all. First and foremost, the writing felt very simplistic at times, switching from writing suited to older teens, to writing for younger ones. The back-and-forth styles were rather distracting. Also, there were instances where the situations or timelines had changed without any warning, so I would have to read the paragraph again to understand that a couple of hours had passed, or that the characters were now at home, when in the previous paragraph they were at school. Like I said, minor issues.

I loved the fact that all supporting characters were involved somehow, and no one functioned as mere furniture. Normally an ‘incurably lazy’ friend (those are Kami’s words, not mine) should bother me tremendously. But somehow, I could relate to this ‘Sleeping Beauty’ because I myself have a best friend who has never failed to stress to me how much she loves to sleep! Angela’s snarkiness more than made up for her constant need to take naps and wish I had half the wit both she and Kami have! I can’t leave out Holly either, who seems to be a genuinely nice person; I’m so glad she was brought into the story. 

I guess I can’t do a review of this book without bringing up The Lynburns. Like all the other characters, every single member of the awe (and fear)-inspiring family had a part to play, and I’m looking forward to where the story goes next. 

Double kudos to the author for providing our heroine with an intact family, complete with a cheeky dad, nurturing mum and sweet siblings! I feel like I should also give extra points for the fact that the cover had something to do with the story. Here’s hoping they won’t replace it with yet another girl in a pretty dress!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Review: Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry


(image and summary from goodreads, eARC courtesy of NetGalley)

Summary:
"I won't tell anyone, Echo. I promise." Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. "You didn't do that-did you? It was done to you?" No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.

So wrong for each other...and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

My thoughts:
I know this book is supposed to centre around Echo's story, but somehow I ended up being more vested in Noah's. Reminiscent of Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, we see the story through two perspectives, Echo's and Noah's. 

Echo is a shadow of her former popular self due to several reasons - she misses her brother who died in Afghanistan, she doesn't get along with her father's new wife (her former babysitter whom she used to adore) and she feels like that she's about to be replaced by her new stepbrother/sister. But more importantly, her confusion and loneliness stems from an incident that she doesn't remember at all; one that ended with her in a hospital covered in blood.

Enter Noah. With a reputation for being a bad boy who uses girls, he is the quite possibly the last thing Echo wants or needs. But it turns out that behind his attitude lies a lonely boy who lost his parents and had to endure the splitting up of his family. After being bounced from one foster family to another, he is determined that his brothers will not end up victims of a horrendous system.

Being thrown together by their school counsellor would seem like the worst possible situation, but Echo and Noah soon realise that there is more to one another, and more importantly, this 'arrangement' may just work in both their favours.

As I said, I looked forward to Noah's story more than I did Echo's, though I did understand her frustration at not being able to remember or move on. I couldn't stand some of Echo's friends who were 'using' her for their own purposes. I also wanted to shake Echo at times, for being so idiotic in her determination to be 'normal'.

While not my favourite, I do see myself reading it again at some point, just as a guilty pleasure.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Mini Review: This Is Not A Test

I sometimes find it hard to write a full-length review, and this is more often the case when a book completely blows me away. Nonetheless, I try to record my thoughts in just a few words, and hence, the Mini Review. My very first mini review is for This Is Not A Test, by Courtney Summers.


(image and summary from goodreads; eARC courtesy of NetGalley)

Summary:
It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self.

To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live.

But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. 

When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

My thoughts:
Man, after reading Cracked Up To Be, I should've known that Courtney Summers does not spare her readers at all! This was a constant high-paced, will-they-or-won't-they-survive story, that at times made me want to stop reading and take several deep breaths. Zombies are normally not my thing, but Ms Summers made it work. Traumatizing at times, this story is about a girl (Sloane) who has decided to end her life, and then finds herself in a situation which calls for the natural fight-or-flight response. Trapped in school with five of her schoolmates who are trying to survive against the vicious beings outside, she sees a different side of things - what one is willing to do when there is absolutely nothing to lose. Really worth the read.


Monday, 9 July 2012

Review: Dark Companion by Marta Acosta


(image and summary from Goodreads, eARC courtesy of NetGalley)

Summary:
Orphaned at the age of six, Jane Williams has grown up in a series of foster homes, learning to survive in the shadows of life. Through hard work and determination, she manages to win a scholarship to the exclusive Birch Grove Academy. There, for the first time, Jane finds herself accepted by a group of friends. She even starts tutoring the headmistress’s gorgeous son, Lucien. Things seem too good to be true. They are.

The more she learns about Birch Grove’s recent past, the more Jane comes to suspect that there is something sinister going on. Why did the wife of a popular teacher kill herself? What happened to the former scholarship student, whose place Jane took? Why does Lucien’s brother, Jack, seem to dislike her so much?

As Jane begins to piece together the answers to the puzzle, she must find out why she was brought to Birch Grove—and what she would risk to stay there….

My thoughts:
It starts out as a normal story of a girl, who has grown up in a dangerous neighbourhood with foster parents who leave much to be desired, finally getting the chance to make something of her life. A scholarship to the exclusive Birch Grove Academy for girls is something our protagonist Jane could once only dream about. Now, her goal of becoming a scientist could actually be realized, thanks to the headmistress of Birch Grove, Mrs Radcliffe, who has not only offered her a prestigious education, but also room and board in a little place of her own, a house that once belonged to the groundskeeper. Jane also finds friendship among a small group of girls, who though considered privileged in her mind, treat her much like one of their own. There are also two possible love interests, the irresistible Lucky, and the elusive Jack, both of whom happen to be the sons of the headmistress.

With a great story set, what went wrong? Before I get to that, I should say that I like Marta Acosta’s style of writing. Her words when describing Jane’s surroundings do really make the birch trees come ‘alive’ and it’s easy to understand why Jane seems to think that there is more to the woods than meets the eye. I also particularly liked one of Jane’s new friends, the very likable and definitely unique Mary Violet. It was Mary Violet’s poetry in fact, that lent a very much needed sense of humour to this book. Who could possibly ignore her requiems to dead marsupials, odes to gynaecological paintings and numerous attempts to funnify Jane? I honestly feel like she should have her own spin-off as I found her on multiple occasions to be more interesting a character than Jane.

Now to the not so good parts. I felt like the author tried to cram far too much into this one book. Given all the scientific explanations, in my opinion, this book could very well have been a good contemporary romance with a touch of mysticism. The sudden veering off into the paranormal genre threw me off, and I even considered not finishing the book several times (Mary Violet saved the day as I only continued with the story to see what she would come up with next). I also thought the love aspect came out of nowhere. The first part of the story has no indication that Jane was wrestling with her feelings for both brothers. After swooning to no end after Lucky, she decides in the blink of an eye it’s Jack she’s in love with? I’m sorry, but even Bebe’s disappearance made more sense than that. 

I also took issue with the fact that Jane constantly ‘bashed’ the arts. As a girl with a science background and a great passion for the arts, I found myself personally offended by some of her statements. She reminded me of Dr Temperance Brennan on Bones during some of those scenes. Her continuous problem with her appearance also got tiring pretty fast. Granted that not having a good body image for years may have set itself in stone in her mind, but having two good looking guys lusting after her should have given her a bit of a boost. Well, at least she wasn’t vain.

A conversation towards the end of the book indicates that there might be a sequel in store, though I could be reading too much into those words. I might read it just to see if it is better than this one, or for the descriptions of Jane’s surroundings. But personally, I’d much rather read a collection of Mary Violet’s poetry.


Sunday, 8 July 2012

Cover Love...#3

Since I teased you with the covers of the sequels, I thought I should compare them with the first book in each series.


That's the beautiful cover for one of my favourite dystopian reads, Under The Never Sky. This is a great book about a girl who doesn't think much of herself, but finds out just how strong she really is when put to the test.


Everneath was just so-so for me; I didn't really feel very strongly about it, though I did like the modern interpretation of the Greek myths. That dress on the other hand, is gorgeous.


I said it before and I'll say it again, I think Incarnate was the most original tale out of the three. A double hats off to 'Ana Incarnate' for being a strong female protagonist, and God knows we need more of those.

(all images are from goodreads)


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Sequel Mania...#1

Thanks to NetGalley, I had the opportunity to read several really good 'first in a series' books last year. Some of these had me hooked from the first page, others took a while to build up. Here are a few newly released covers for the sequels to those books, all of which I'm absolutely dying to read!


Through The Ever Night is the much-anticipated sequel to Under The Never Sky. I like how they have kept the covers similar, and this one gives me hope that it focuses more on Perry's story, though I did like the alternating POVs.


I know, I know, I hear you...you're a little sick of the girls-in-dresses covers too. I'm not sure if this cover has anything to do with the story; it could very well just be a pretty girl in a very pretty dress. Nonetheless, the Pluto-Proserpine-Orpheus-Eurydice story ended on a major cliffhanger, and I'm dying to know what's in store for Nikki, Jack and Cole in Everbound.


I read all three books in quick succession last year, and I personally think that Incarnate had the most original storyline. I can't wait to find out to find out how people react to Ana now that she is no longer the 'only one'.

P.S. One of my biggest pet peeves is when publishers change the covers halfway through the series. Since these three have followed the pattern of their predecessors (and are gorgeous to boot!), here's hoping the covers stay true throughout!

(all images are from goodreads)

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Cover Love...#2

It's time for another round of books that I'd read...well, just because they look pretty.


This cover reminds me of my copy of The Adoration of Jenna Fox (which I really liked). That, and the sentence on top that's a slight twist on the story we've all been told, made me put it on my to-read list IMMEDIATELY!


No other reason than just sheer gorgeousness!


This one I've been wanting to read for a while. There's something about the cover...it shows you that something has happened, but hints that's there's so much more to the story.


Isn't.that.beautiful?

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Review: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby


(image and summary from goodreads)

Summary:
From Jessi Kirby, a debut novel about confronting the past in order to move ahead.

I read once that water is a symbol for emotions. And for a while now, I've thought maybe my mother drowned in both.

Anna's life is upended when her father accepts a job transfer the summer before her junior year. It's bad enough that she has to leave her friends and her life behind, but her dad is moving them to the beach where her parents first met and fell in love- a place awash in memories that Anna would just as soon leave under the surface.

While life on the beach is pretty great, with ocean views and one adorable lifeguard in particular, there are also family secrets that were buried along the shore years ago. And the ebb and flow of the ocean's tide means that nothing- not the sea glass that she collects on the sand and not the truths behind Anna's mother's death- stays buried forever.

My thoughts:
This was a lovely little debut novel. I say little because it was shorter than what I would've liked, but having said that, I am glad the author didn't add on unnecessary parts just to lengthen the story. 

In Moonglass, we view life through the eyes of Anna, a girl who is packing up and moving (with her father) to the place where her parents first met. From the onset, we get the idea that Anna has never quite got over her mother's suicide (while this word is never used, this fact is no spoiler; there is constant mention of Anna's mother walking into the sea and not coming back). While she has been living on the same stretch of beach that her mother walked last, the idea of moving to a place where her parents were happier is not something Anna is looking forward to. Throw in a new school with unfamiliar faces and a host of young lifeguards who while appealing, have been given strict instructions to stay away from her, seeing as how her dad is their boss, and you all but feel Anna's loneliness and insecurity. Of course, if that were the case, we wouldn't have a story, would we?

Firstly, what I wouldn't give to have the view Anna does...walking distance from the beach , lulled to sleep by the sound of waves crashing on the shore...it does seem like its own form of paradise. Secondly, I always like stories where the supporting characters have stories of their own and don't just function to make our MC look like less of a loner. This is the case with Jillian, who starts out as a prospective rival, and ends up in quite a contrasting role. My regrets are that Ashley and especially Tyler were not given enough time to stand out, as their presence did have a big impact on the story, and helped us connect nore with Anna's less sullen side.

Now, off to find a copy of Ms Kirby's sophomore novel, In Honor, which I put on my to-read list even before reading Moonglass!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Review: Crazy by Amy Reed


(image and summary from goodreads)

Summary:
Connor knows that Izzy will never fall in love with him the way he’s fallen for her. But somehow he’s been let into her crazy, exhilarating world and become her closest confidante. But the closer they get, the more Connor realizes that Izzy’s highs are too high and her lows are too low. And the frenetic energy that makes her shine is starting to push her into a much darker place.

As Izzy’s behavior gets increasingly erratic and self-destructive, Connor gets increasingly desperate to stop her from plummeting. He knows he can’t save her from her pain... but what if no one else can?

My thoughts:
I haven't read many books that are from the point of view of the bystander. This book, written in emails and chats (which I love) is about a teen's struggle with bipolar disorder, and her friend's determination to help her, even when she repeatedly turns him away. I've always thought that many people are forced to endure mental illness without being diagnosed because of the stigma attached to anything remotely related. Mental illness is a genuine health problem, and this book is an interesting way to learn the basics, through both the main character and her friend. 

I have never read anything by Amy Reed prior to this, but I'm definitely going to now.

(eARC courtesy of Simon & Schuster Galley Grab, which I hear is now defunct)

Monday, 4 June 2012

Review: If I Tell by Janet Gurtler


(image and summary from goodreads)

Summary:
Jasmine Evans knows one thing for sure... people make mistakes. After all, she is one. Jaz is the result of a one night stand between a black football player and a blonde princess. Having a young mother who didn't raise her, a father who wants nothing to do with her and living in a small-minded town where she's never fit in hasn't been easy. But she's been surviving. Until she sees her mom's new boyfriend making out with her own best friend. When do you forgive people for being human or give up on them forever?

My thoughts:
For some reason, the main character in this story resonated with me. No, I'm not biracial like she was, nor am I dealing with insecurities due to my heritage like she is. But I understand her need to rely only on herself and to turn inward in times of trouble, as well as find it difficult to accept help from others. While she did come across as annoying from time to time, I had to remind myself that she was a teenager, and like all others, is still on a process of self discovery. There were some great supporting characters as well, namely Ashley (the one who never gives up), Jackson (the new swoon-worthy bad boy) and even Lacey (she may have her faults, but we get an insight into why she acts the way she does). 

One other point to highlight is the element of racial prejudice. Cross culture marriages are becoming increasingly common, and it was interesting to note how not everyone is open to the idea, though by the look of it, they are quietly embarased about their behavior (if one makes a comment and does not want to repeat it out loud, I take this to mean he/she is embarassed about said comment-cue nurse in the hospital). 

This book is by no means perfect, but it is right up there with some of the good ones I've read. 
Janet Gurtler is one to watch, and I'm looking forward to reading more of her work.

Hits:
1. A lead character you can emphathize with.
2. Interesting suporting characters, with their individual back stories.
3. An insight into postpartum depression - in my opinion, a highly dangerous and underpublicized medical condition.
4. A slow blossoming romance - none of that I-knew-you-were-the-one-for-me-the-second-I-saw-you nonsense. 

Misses:
1. Slightly rushed towards the end.

(eARC courtesy of NetGalley)


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Books I'm waiting for...#4


Coming to terms with an event you can't remember? I foresee tears while reading this, but will that stop me? Absolutely not. 


On The Fringe sounds just 'otherworldly' enough to keep me on my toes.


How do you fight an enemy in your own home?



Monday, 28 May 2012

Review: Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti


(image from goodreads)

I have always felt that in fiction, authors reveal just as much about themselves as they do their characters, though you often have to read between the lines to figure this out. It was clear to me from the get-go that the author could relate to some of the incidences in her story because she probably dealt with some form of bullying during her teen years as well. 

This was a pretty short book but it packed a punch, dealing with an issue that is constantly in the news these days - bullying. The main character is the subject of much abuse by her peers due to the fact that she is 'poor' when compared to them. While bullying is the main topic, the story covers other important issues such as child neglect and peer pressure. One of the things that I loved most about this book is that at least one supporting character had a back story of her own, instead of merely serving as a 'prop' to the MC.

While not my favourite book by Susane Colasanti, I appreciate the fact that she tackled an all-important issue, and I look forward to what she has in store for her readers next.

(eARC courtesy of NetGalley)

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Review: A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson


(image from goodreads)

I didn't expect this book to be quite so uplifting!

Set in 1912 (and no, it has nothing to do with the Titanic), the story centres around Harriet, a bright, sprightly and altogether sweet young lady, who through some cosmic mistake, was born into quite possibly the dreariest home in Cambridge. Her stuffy professor of a father and scrooge of an aunt allow her only one delight - ballet. When a visiting ballet master offers her a job - dancing at the famed Manaus opera house in South America, Harriet seizes the opportunity and runs away with the company. However, her love of dance is not the only reason for her escape. While on a visit to Stavely manor, Harriet chances upon the heir of Stavely, a precocious lad who asks for her help in seeking out 'the boy', a young man who walked away from Stavely years ago, and has not been heard of again. 

Part romance and part adventure with a whole lot of unexpected humour thrown in, A Company of Swans is a book I will undoubtedly read again and again.

P.S. Dare I say that Romain Verney is the ultimate YA love interest? Though he may be a little older than other YA leads, still, what's not to love about a boy who will don a multitude of disguises to rescue the woman he loves?

P.P.S. Anyone else think this would make a great movie?

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Review: What I Didn't Say by Keary Taylor


(image from goodreads)

I love books that make me ask myself the 'what if' question. In this case, it was 'what if I lose the ability to speak?' 

Our protagonist Jake is just like any other teenager - he's carefree, full of hope for the future and pretty much takes for granted everything he has. Then he is involved in a car accident, and life will never be the same. The permanent damage to his vocal cords ensures that he will never utter a single word, or sound, ever again. 
From this moment on, Jake has to make a choice - learn to live without a voice, 
or not live at all? 

His biggest regret? Not telling the girl he loves how he really felt about her. Samantha was a lovely supporting character for our lead. Not only does she help him deal with his frustrations, but she doesn't allow to him to feel sorry for himself either, not when he has such a supportive family and friends that he didn't even know he had. 

I did feel like this book was written for a younger audience, in the sense that the writing was relatively simple. Nonetheless, it is a great story about coming to terms with loss, realising all the ways you are blessed and learning to speak without saying a word.

(ARC courtesy of NetGalley)

Monday, 14 May 2012

Review: One Moment by Kristina McBride


(image from goodreads)

This book was one that I had been looking forward to since the cover art was revealed. While the plot seems vaguely familiar (a death followed by the grieving process), 
the story turned out to be anything but. 

The protagonist, Maggie, is dealing with two horrific incidents at the same time; her boyfriend Joey has died, and she cannot recall a single moment of his last minutes despite being the only witness to them. Throw in a police investigation into Joey's death, a secretive best friend and her own overwhelming guilt over not being able to remember significant details, and the stage is set for a great book. 

We as readers have the opportunity to glimpse inside Maggie's mind, as she not only recalls the events of that terrible day, but learns things about the boy she thought she knew, but may as well have been a complete stranger. 


I haven't read anything else by Kristina McBride, but I sure am going to after reading this one.


Thanks NetGalley!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Cover Love...#1

Occasionally I do the unthinkable and put a book on my to-read list merely because I fell in love with its cover. Here are a few that I'm dying to read.
(I know, I know, I have another category for these, but how could I resist?)


Thursday, 3 May 2012

Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore


(image from goodreads)

I always find that it is the books I love most that I struggle to write reviews for. Perhaps in some way I feel that the author did such a good job with words that any attempt by me would be 
significantly below par.

Graceling is definitely one of my favourite books. Reading it again in anticipation of the 3rd book in the series (Bitterblue), I find that my feelings during the second read are unchanged from that of the first. I am still thoroughly enthralled by Kristin Cashore's description of the locations in the book, and am full of admiration for one of the most kick-ass heroines in YA lit. Unlike a lot of books which seem to harp on a pretty young thing who is trying to discover herself, in Graceling, we are faced by a young woman, Katsa, who having grown up with a talent she somewhat despises, is trying desperately to put it to good use and maintain a sense of self while distancing herself from those who would 
use her talents for untoward means. 

The author should also be commended for creating several strong supporting characters in Po, Raffin and Bitterblue, all of whom have the difficult task of aiding our heroine 
on her quest towards self-discovery.

I may have only just finished the book, but honestly, I can't wait to go on this journey with Katsa once again.

Review: The Wicked and the Just by J.Anderson Coats


(image from goodreads)

Wow, I'm not actually sure where I should begin. I think it's best to start by saying that J. Anderson Coats has inspired in me an interest in English-Welsh history. 

Now back to the book. The setting is beautiful, if tumultuous, and features two very distinct voices - 2 teenage girls, one the 'servant', the other her 'mistress'. What starts out and pretty much carries on as genuine mistrust and animosity does reveal, to the readers at least, 2 very similar personalities, despite their differing backgrounds. While the book takes us back to events more than 700 years ago, it's sad to say that they are not a thing of the past. Injustices, unstable political situations and oppression are very much alive in various parts of the world, even today. And as clearly depicted through the viewpoints of both girls, the tables can turn at any given moment. 

I would have liked a more conclusive ending, but then again, I'll take what I can get. The author's note on the events that took place during those turbulent times is a testament to her thorough research and helped me better understand and imagine the setting and characters.

Now off to read about the events of Michaelmas 1294!

Thanks Netgalley!

Monday, 30 April 2012

Review: The Cranes Dance by Meg Howrey


(image from goodreads)

For some reason, I was a bit reluctant to continue the story after the first few pages, but I am really glad I did. I have always loved ballet, and am rather sad that I never had the chance to pursue it. 

The Cranes Dance is a tale of two sisters who are both professional ballerinas. The story is told from the perspective of the older sister, Kate, and covers an in-depth and sometimes humorous look at the fiercely competitive world of professional ballet. I had an idea that it was tough, but this story tells you just how difficult it can be, from the hours and hours of training, to the fact that being in a big-name ballet company for years does not necessarily make you a star, or even a principal. Through the words of Kate you find out that her younger sister Gwen (the more talented, and seemingly more destined for stardom sister) has suffered from some sort of mental breakdown, and little by little, the actions that led to that breakdown are revealed. 

It is a slow buildup, and the events in Kate's life don't divert the reader from what is clearly the number one activity in her life - dance. Another thing I really loved was the explanation of some of the ballet masterpieces like Swan Lake, A Midsummer's Night Dream and Giselle. I suddenly feel this desire to watch one of those pieces performed, though I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to do so without wondering what happens behind the scenes.

I am so happy I stuck with the book, and am probably going to purchase the 'real' copy when it is out.

Great job Meg Howrey, and please write more ballet books, even though you probably don't like the current onslaught of ballet movies (based on something Kate mentioned in the book).

Thanks NetGalley!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Books I'm waiting for...#3

More books that I can't wait to read!


How do you defend yourself when the only thing that will set you free 
is not yours to reveal?


Loss, a road trip, a long-lost friend... reminiscent of one of my favourite books, Amy&Roger's Epic Detour, this is an absolute must-read for me!


Another book that deals with loss, but this time with a parallel world where the person being mourned is alive. What's not to like?


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Review: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua


(image from goodreads)

This book has been getting a lot of hype, and in order to give my opinion on Amy Chua's parenting styles, I felt like I needed to read her book first. Now that I'm done, I find that I have even less to say than before I read it!

While I do agree that some aspects of her parenting mirror that of the way I was brought up, I had to wonder from time to time whether she was exaggerating. I completely agree with her when it comes to discipline and respect, but a lot of her parenting screams out that her children are being raised in wealth. As an adult, I now wish I had taken up music lessons, but as a child, it was not an option as music lessons were expensive. I did have the opportunity to learn dancing, something which I have continued till today. While my mother didn't enforce rigorous practices, I discovered that I really enjoyed dancing at about age 11, and what I think made me enjoy it most, was the fact that I discovered this joy myself. I don't know much about music, or whether the concept behind it works the same way as in dance but this is how I see it - yes, technique is crucial, but what thousands of hours of practice never gives you is heart.

I also wondered why her husband didn't seem to play a more active role in his children's upbringing. Maybe she didn't have space in the book to put in his input, but I would love to know what he had to say, and if he intervened at any point.

Out of everything, this is the part that bothered me the most. The author mentions that her mother in law always begged for one day just to spend with her grandchildren, but she mentions that she never had a day to spare. Really? Not one? Those girls could have learned valuable life lessons during that one day, but I guess we'll never know will we?

At the end of the day, her style of parenting seems to have worked for her, and her children. If I ever become a parent, I am more than happy to go along with some aspects of her parenting, in particular the ones that are similar to that of my mother's. But I do hope someone conks me on the head with a frying pan if I start booking pianos in hotel rooms and force feeding caviar to my children.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Review: Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross


(image from goodreads)

I love fairy tale retellings, and this one was especially good. It covered several well-known tales, and the book didn't shy away from the original tales, which as most of us know, are quite a bit darker than the Disney versions. The only downside was that because I was reading it sporadically, I kept having to refer back as I couldn't recall who the characters were supposed to be. I'm glad that it ended on a proper note, though there is room for a sequel if the author wishes to write one (I'm not sure if there is a plan for one). I really hope she does, because if it is anything like this book, it's going to be on my dying-to-read list well before it even has a cover!

Lines to live by...
"You didn't hide. You didn't wait for the perfect moment to settle on you like a butterfly, like magic. You went out and made magic. Made your own wishes come true."

Thanks NetGalley!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Review: A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley


(image from goodreads)

I can't believe it took me so long to get my hands on this lovely book! A Little Wanting Song reaffirmed my belief that there is truly something magical about Australian YA authors, and Miss Crowley is a great example of one of them. To me, the entire book read like a song, the words lifting off the page like a tune carried on the wind. The author perfectly captured all the emotions felt by our two leads - sadness, anger, despair, fear and hope. It was also refreshing to read a book that centred on a friendship, with a great romance on the side. 

This is one book I will definitely be re-reading. 

Loved:

1) The multiple POVs.
2) Charlie's songs.
3) Dave
4) The non-instantaneous romance.