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review 2016-04-01 23:28
The Impossible Knife of Memory - Laurie Halse Anderson

This book had a strong start. Teenage girl with a dysfunctional family, father suffering from severe PTSD from the war in Iraq, constantly having to move from place to place so that part of her life is wrecked, and her experiences at school as a result. Plus, the author is Laurie Halse Anderson, so it's gotta be good, right?

Well, the first third of the book was really good. Laurie Anderson writes the scenes really well, especially the father's flashbacks to the war and how it affected him. He drinks, he smokes, he doesn't remember stuff half the time. Hayley is affected as a result. She's a mix of immature and very serious since she recognises the danger signs of her father when they come up.

She also divides up the entire school as either "zombies" or "freaks". Yeah, she basically hates everyone. I don't mind, this sounds pretty realistic and how she might deal with such experiences.

What I don't get...is how the cliche love romance comes into this.

Yes, there's a love interest, and this is pretty much why the *second* third of the book was extremely dull. New boy in school! Finn is hot, super smart, tutors her in maths, cute flirting, super cute in a lot of the things he does...Pretty much perfect. Yes, he has flaws later on, but at this point? He's pretty much perfect.

I admit that when he asks her out it is really REALLY cute, as is some of their dates.
But...realistically, why would Hayley bother to talk to him?
She hates practically everyone in the school and it's not like he behaves really different? The fact that she has trust issues (which is quite understandable) would mean that this guy is the LAST person she would be getting with.

Also, Finn keeps cracking perfect jokes about maths and all this other weird and random stuff. To make him quirky and romanceable and shit. It just made him sound annoying. I didn't really like him.

The book picked up in the last third of the book and actually became very emotional. Unfortunately, Hayley also turned irritating as soon as her evil stepmother turns up. Yes, there's an evil stepmother, only she's not that evil, because she's human. The characters are all written very well.

I enjoyed the ending very much. I wouldn't call it "heartbreaking" unlike the review on the cover. Actually, I was rooting for a sad ending because that would be better.

I also cheered when the main character broke up with her boyfriend because I was like thank god he's finally gone but oh no, this is predictable romance and he has to come back again.

I mean, the moment Finn appears it becomes "girl-with-shitty-life-can't-take-it-and-has-to-rely-on-cute-bf" I mean come on. I expected better from Laurie Halse Anderson really.

Really well written, but the cliche romance which plagues so many YA books is right there and the book could do without it. I'm also not certain that it portrayed PTSD very well, but it was a good read overall. 3.5 stars.

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text 2015-07-03 06:39
July TBR + TBR Jar Explained
Red Riding Hood - David Leslie Johnson,Sarah Blakley-Cartwright
Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 01 - Bisco Hatori
Overseas - Beatriz Williams
Saint Anything - Sarah Dessen
The Impossible Knife of Memory - Laurie Halse Anderson
It's Kind of a Funny Story - Ned Vizzini

Hey, everyone! It's officially time for my July TBR! (TBR stands for To Be Read, by the by.) I'm super excited for my list, but I must confess that most of these I drew from my TBR Jar.


A quick note about my TBR Jar. I just updated it a couple of days ago and it includes all of the YA books and Adult books that I own. Lately, I've been reading a lot of library books, so I decided I should mostly read books off my shelf so I can either 1) refresh my memory on the book or series OR 2) read it because I've never read it before and I feel like every book was simply written to be read. In any case, I have chosen the following books from my TBR Jar this month.


1. Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright based on a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson. I'm actually really excited for this book just because I saw the movie and I liked the twist they put on it, even thought I don't remember it very well. No worries though. I'm planning on reading it and then watching the movie again!


Valerie's sister was beautiful, kind, and sweet. Now she is dead. Henry, the handsome son of the blacksmith, tries to console Valerie, but her wild heart beats fast for another: the outcast woodcutter, Peter, who offers Valerie another life far from home.


After her sister's violent death, Valerie's world begins to spiral out of control. For generations, the Wolf has been kept at bay with a monthly sacrifice. But now no one is safe. When an expert Wolf hunter arrives, the villagers learn that the creature lives among them - it could be anyone in town.


It soon becomes clear that Valerie is the only one who can hear the voice of the creature. The Wolf says she must surrender herself before the blood moon wanes...or everyone she loves will die.


2. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. I've read this one before, but it's been so far that I do not remember anything about the plotline! It's the first book in a series and I'm hoping that I like it as much as I remember liking it. I didn't go on with the series the first time, so hopefully it's different this time.


Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license - for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.


But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world - and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.


3. Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 1 by Bisco Hatori. I've read the first couple of books in this manga series and I love them to death, so I'm ecstatic to be able to read these again. I just can't get enough of these!


In this screwball romantic comedy, a poor girl at a rich kids' school ends up working for the school's swankiest club - and gets mistaken for a boy!


One day, Haruhi, a scholarship student at exclusive Ouran High School, breaks an $80,000 vase that belongs to the "Host Club," a mysterious campus group consisting of six super-rich (and gorgeous) guys. To pay back the damages, she is forced to work for the club, and it's there that she discovers just how wealthy the members are and how different the rich are from everybody else...


4. Overseas by Beatriz Williams. This is an Adult novel and I'm not entirely sure what to make of it, but it should be an interesting read. Let me know in the comments what you think based off of the summary.


When twenty-something Wall Street analyst Kate Wilson attracts the notice of the legendary Julian Laurence at a business meeting, no one's more surprised than she is. Julian's relentless energy and his extraordinary intellect electrify her, but she's baffled by his sudden interest. Why would this handsome British billiionaire - Manhattan's most eligible bachelor - pursue a pretty but bookish young banker who hasn't had a boyfriend since college?


The answer is beyond imagining...at least at first. Kate and Julian's story may have begun not in the moneyed world of twenty-first-century Manhattan but in France during World War I, when a mysterious American woman emerged from the shadows of the Western Front to save the life of Captain Julian Laurence Ashford, a celebrated war poet and infantry officer.


Now, in modern-day New York, Kate and Julian must protect themselves from the secrets of the past, and trust in a true love that transcends time and space.


The next two books are books that I am reading for the two book clubs I am in on Goodreads.


5. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen. This book came out this year and I'm super excited to read it, especially since Dessen wrote it. One of my favorite books is by her and I've been wanting to read more of her books. I'm reading this one for my own book club, Book Assassins.


Sydney has always felt invisible. She's grown accustomed to her brother, Peyton, being the focus of the family's attention and, lately, concern. Peyton is handsome and charismatic, but seems bent on self-destruction. Now, after a drunk-driving accident that crippled a boy, Peyton's serving some serious jail time, and Sydney is on her own, questioning her place in the family and the world.


Then she meets the Chatham family. Drawn into their warm, chaotic circle, Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance for the first time. There's effervescent Layla, who constantly falls for the wrong guy, Rosie, who's had her own fall from grace, and Mrs. Chatham, who even though ailing is the heart of the family. But it's with older brother Mac - quiet, watchful, and protective - that Sydney finally feels seen, really seen, at last.


6. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson. I haven't heard a lot about this book, but I'm still excited to start my first book with the book club, Amazon Editors' YA Book Club.


For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, trying to outrun the memories that haunt them both. They moved back to Andy's hometown to try a "normal" life, but the horrors he saw in the war threaten to destroy their lives. Hayley watches, helpless, as her father turns to drugs and alcohol to silence his demons. And then her own past creeps up, and everything falls apart.


How do you keep your father alive when death is stalking him? What are you supposed to do when your parent stops acting like an adult? And what happens if a sweet guy who can make you laugh barges his way into your world and for the first time, you find yourself thinking about the future?


And finally the last book is one I have already started and plan on finishing this month.


7. It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini. I saw the movie when it first came out and I really liked it. I'm hoping the book will be even better.


Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life - which means getting into the right high school to get into the right college to get the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan's Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.


Craig's suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.


So those are the amazing seven books I am planning to read this month. If you guys have read any of these or want to just talk books, feel free to comment! I'm going to try and post reviews for all of these as I finish them, so look out for those as well!

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text 2015-05-27 14:28
The Impossible Knife Of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Impossible Knife of Memory - Laurie Halse Anderson

'Until then, we're going to keep making memories like this, moments when we're the only two people in the whole world. And when we get scared or lonely or confused, we'll pull out these memories and wrap them around us and they'll make us feel safe. And strong.'


Well. Finished my first LHA (okay I've listened to Twisted on audio, but I kept zoning out due to the horrible narrator). I saw her speak on two panels at the Sydney Writer's Festival this past w/e and she is most excellent. One of the panels was Realistic Issues In Teen Fiction, and it's clear as to why she was on that panel. From what I know of her books, some of them tackle serious shit. TIKoM = PTSD, which she has written about incredibly well. So while I wouldn't say it is a book that is easy to read because of this, I really quite liked The Impossible Knife Of Memory. Loved Hayley. She is strong as hell and she made me laugh (Finn too).


One of the things Laurie said on the panel (that resonates with this book) is that while sometimes her characters go though terrible things, she always tries to end her books on a hopeful note. So if by some miracle you're reading this, keep that in mind while reading TIKoM. Especially when you hit page 342.

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review 2015-02-21 00:00
The Impossible Knife of Memory
The Impossible Knife of Memory - Laurie Halse Anderson Laurie Halse Anderson is one of my favorite YA writers. I love Speak, and Wintergirls, and Twisted, but I struggled with this book.

Seventeen-year-old Hayley has a lot to deal with: her first year at a traditional high school, her first boyfriend, an alcoholic/suicidal father, and a stepmother who she hates. Hayley is desperate to be a normal teenager, but it’s hard to be normal when her home life is always on the verge of collapse.

There are elements of this book that I love. The writing is great (despite a few obvious typos). The romance between Hayley and Finn is cute, and their dialogue is funny. The plot is a little slow, but it’s interesting enough to keep my attention. I really like the complexity of the relationship between Hayley and her parents. She loves them and hates them, and it feels very realistic. Hayley’s parents are my favorite characters, which is unusual for a YA book. The author did a wonderful job of developing the adult characters.

Unfortunately, the elements of the book that I love are overshadowed by my intense dislike of Hayley. She’s angry, mean, and judgmental. I completely understand why she acts the way she does, but it was hard to read a 400-page novel from the POV of an angry person. I could only take Hayley in small doses. I needed to close the book often to get away from her.

Hayley’s anger also made it hard for me to understand her relationship with Finn. What does he see in her? She’s mean to him, and he just keeps coming back for more meanness. Why?

At the end of the book, I was really hoping that Hayley would learn to be less angry and judgmental. She doesn’t understand that everybody has problems. Nobody’s life is perfect. She acts like she’s better than other people. She calls her fellow students “Zombies” and gets angry at a girl for wearing a mini skirt. I wanted Hayley to learn to be nice, but she doesn’t seem to learn anything. Her parents are the ones who learn all of the lessons.

This isn’t a bad book. It’s definitely worth reading, and I’m glad I read it. It’s an important story that needs to be told. I just would have enjoyed it a lot more if the narrator hadn’t been a brat.
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review 2014-11-11 14:10
The Impossible Knife of Memory - Laurie Halse Anderson

A little more uneven than I expected. Would have been five stars, except I found the chapters of the dad's traumatic experiences distracting from rather than deepening the reading experience. It's otherwise so much Hayley's book, not her dad's, that they felt out of place.

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