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Search tags: heartbreaking-stories
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review 2015-01-02 19:08
It's complicated.
Beastkeeper - Cat Hellisen

          Arc provided by Henry Holt & Company through Netgalley

                   Release Date: February 3 rd

 

I had to re-read this story immediately after I had finished it for first time, because with only one read, I honestly did not know what to say.

 

First of all, I loved its first pages: They had that bitter-sweet tone of well done magical realism, and they held so much promise.

We get immediately thrown into this family's live, and we can see that something isn't quite right. Besides the obvious that is...

 

 Page after page we get sucked into Sarah's life, and how in the span of a few days everything she knows gets replaced by something out of a fantasy book.

 

Sarah is only thirteen, and she's not ready for what is coming into her life...in fact, I don't think anyone would, because all of a sudden she finds herself surrounded by a strange reality and sharing an existence with characters that aren't exactly loving, or trustworthy.

This means that there's a lot of crying, which is comprehensible.

Especially since this tale follows the path of the "old school of fairy tales", the one in which things happen because so...in which events mostly take a turn for the worse...where most characters are as flawed as possible, and finally where HEA is mostly a vague dream.

 

There are however some elements here whose presence, I found somewhat strange considering this is a supposed middle grade book ...

First Sarah has some serious tstl actions. Number one, the walking alone in a wood part, because doing things that adults say you shouldn't do are appealing...

 Then there's meeting a strange older boy in those same woods because so.

o_O

O_o

*shakes head*

 

For me this book has a serious identity crises.

First of all, I don't think this will appeal to the middle grade readers: the writing, the plot, the *oh, there goes my heart!* part. Too cruel for them, I think.

For the YA audience?

They want romance. Thankfully there isn't one in here. There's seeds _really strange seeds considering the characters ages. THE DIFFERENCE! _, but there isn't an actual romance.

 

Adults....

Yes, I think we are the most logical target, but once one starts analysing this and that.. *sight*

For instance, there's a part in which we are told that the curse affects the women and the man differently ...but in reality that's not quite so.

Then we have characters who apparently have thousands of years, and I wanted to know more about their lives.

I needed more backstory.

 

For me this had everything to be a five star book, but I could have used more development in certain parts of the narrative...however, _and especially with the re-read _ I have to say that despite the TSTL moments, and other elements, I ended up "falling" for this book.

And, now I am curious about the author's other works.

 

 Author's Official Site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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review 2014-12-31 18:26
Exactly my cup of tea :)
The Changeling Sea - Patricia A. McKillip

Heart-breaking, atmospheric and unforgettable.
This story was all I could ask for, and more.
It doesn't need three hundred or four hundred pages, much of them filled with boring details to tell its story.
It slowly arrives, it tells its tale, it imprints it in our hearts and minds, and calmly goes away...

A coming of age punctuated by loss and finding what's important in one's live.

"It’s an odd thing, happiness. Some people take happiness from gold. Or black pearls. And some of us, far more fortunate, take their happiness from periwinkles.”

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review 2014-04-05 14:37
Burning Girls
Burning Girls - Veronica Schanoes

I came across this novel almost by accident. Not the ones that involve tripping or any other misfortune, instead I prefer to point my finger at Fate.

In what I guess are 31 pages, the author weaves _ and in this I'm afraid I'll have to resort to the same old tropes _ a heartbreaking story with roots in the historical fiction, magical realism, fairy tale retellings and horror domains.

 

"In America, they don’t let you burn. My mother told me that.
 When we came to America, we brought anger and socialism and hunger. We also brought our demons. They stowed away on the ships with us, curled up in the small sacks we slung over our shoulders, crept under our skirts. When we passed the medical examinations and stepped for the first time out onto the streets of granite we would call home, they were waiting for us, as though they’d been there the whole time."

 

Told with a crisp efficiency, the Burning Girls takes us to Nineteenth century Poland, to a land and time fraught with the potential for racial problems. 

In a place where legends of Old are still very much present in the characters lives, what follows is a rich and dark tale of superstitions and dangerous beings, that don't take kindly at being thwarted.

 

I had read some comments on how a certain event _ that I only heard about for the first time, in the most recent Alice Hoffman book _ , lets call it that (to avoid spoilers), was also a part of this story...

...even so, I kept waiting until the last moment for a different thing to happen. For a moment i held on to the fairy tale part, forgetting that this is mostly an horror story.

 

Also I can't help pointing out, how refreshing it was, to have in such a short novella, a relationship the sorts of Deborah and Ruthie.

I'm afraid that the first time Deborah says that she doesn't care about boys, I got myself prepared for some insta love idiocy, as it's normally the case. But unlike what today has become a trend, that didn't happen here, and I loved the small insights we are given into their relationship.

 

Poignant and unforgettable, this is much more than a family's plight from the supernatural element.

It's a realistic portrait of Jewish families who trying to escape persecution in their countries, ended up finding another different type of horror, in the countries who received them.

You can read this novella Here.

 

Also on the Tor's site, and according to Ellen Datlow:

 

A new story by Veronica, a novelette called "Among the Thorns," will be posted on Tor.com April 30th.

Suffice to say, that I'm really looking forward in reading it.

 

 

You can also get the Burning Girls free ebook  here:

Kobo

 

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review 2014-04-01 20:14
Dogging (The Devil You Don't Know) - Stephanie Roi
 Copy provided by the author
 
A girl's sexual coming of age?
 

A representation of today's youth in pursuit for meaning in their lives?

 

How does one adjust one's real nature to society's expectations?

 

Cassie, our main character, could be just like anyone else in our day and time.

 

"She was also an average girl growing up in a society with high, nigh impossible standards of beauty. Intimacy issues? Of course she had them, who didn't?"

 

First thing I noticed about this book was the quality of the writing.

It has it in spades.

 

The second one: Cassie has absolutely no self esteem.

 

How does this affect the story?

Well, it affects it in the sense that during the _ let's call it _ first half of the book, in which Cassie enters into a relationship with Jemma, Cassie's actions almost fade into the background. Almost like a way to emphasize her worship and admiration of Jemma.

 

While reading this part of the story I couldn't help drawing some parallels. For instance, were Jemma a boy, he (she) would be the typical bad boy, who a certain day would pay attention _out of the blue _ to our main character.

Since this was written by a woman, the way these two interact _their obviously power unbalanced relationship _ felt a little jarring to read.

It's not as if two women cannot be together only for sex. But even so, sex creates a connection of a sort, and the long silences between them were hard to adjust to.

 

Also regarding the way Jemma is portrayed... the way she is described, from the way she talks, to the way she regards her actions, seem derived from a patriarchal pov. She's more like a goddess than an actual woman.

 

The plot of this story basically follows Cassie's life and her attempt to fulfil her need.

The path of a girl who, simplistically speaking, needs to be able to feel something in her, through her path in life... a different path from today's ongoing search (and of one of the characters) for desensitization. 

 

She sees herself as socially inept, but she has a strength of her own, as one can read in the situations in which she places herself into. 

 

This was not something easy to read.

You wish you could shout at this girl: "You deserve so much more than this!"

Do not let them use you like this!

 

Also, I couldn't help finding confusing the constant conversation regarding virginity.

What is virginity?

For starters Cassie has sex with Jemma. 

They're eighteen, they should know what constitutes sex.

 

The story moves forward, but still one thing remains as constant:

Cassie's lack of self esteem.

This will prompt her involvement with another character who also has some different views of the sexual act.

It was like this girl was a magnet for everyone who would just complicate her life.

Not that she feels this way:

 

"She would never regret meeting Lane, or Dean or Jemma. She loved them all even if they would never know."

 

The better part of this is that, as a reader, you can see the character's growth.

It would be easy to indicate Cassie's incapacity to see where her life is going, but that is not the case.

Cassie, _emancipated Cassie_, from a certain point provides very accurate analysis on the whys and whos of her actions.

She's not clueless, as one would expect. She's simply determined in following her path.

In the future, I just hope that it will involve more self esteem.

 

 

 

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review 2013-12-12 18:53
Beautifully evocative
Green Angel - Alice Hoffman

As all Alice Hoffman stories, this was as always beautifully written.

Each and every phrase pure poetry on it's own, that i honestly find myself lacking the proper words to describe how much i liked it.

Liked it, is just too a insignificant word... i guess it became part of me, as only the greatest stories; the ones that truly touch our hearts, are capable of doing it. If we let them...

 

For me, this author is outstanding in this gender. She weaves the most sad, heartbreaking stories, in perfect tapestries, made of memories and ghosts, tears and love.

 

This is the story of fifteen year old Green. The older daughter, the quiet daughter...

 

#I was the least among them, nothing special, just a girl. I was a moody, dark weed; still, they called me Green because of my talents in the garden"

 

When her sister and parents are killed, Green's starts to disappear beneath the cover of thorns ...

 

 One night when the sky was ash-coloured, I went into the ruined garden and clipped the thorns from the bare rosebushes, then sewed them to my clothes, one by one, until my fingers bled. Now I was ready to feel nothing. I was protected from feeling anything at all.

 

and tattoos...

 

"I didn't deserve anything, not food to ease my hunger or water to ease my thirst.(..) That was when I took a pin and some black ink. I began to mark my arm. I outlined a raven, and then a bat, then a rose that looked like a flower found at the end of the world. That's who I was now without my mother and my father and my moonlit sister. Blood and ink.

Darkness where before there had been patience, black where there'd once been green."

 

...that she starts using as a sort of armor against the world, even against herself.

 

 After a while, Green starts to give place to Ash. A girl that lives among ashes and pain...a girl whose own sight becomes cloudy...

 

This is a story about surviving grief.

 

A evocative, quirky, sad little story, sprinkled with bits of wisdom as just Alice Hoffman is capable of doing.

Somehow i still haven't managed the time to finish the last part of this story, entitled "Green Witch". Or if you want to, you can read both stories in a single book: Green Heart.

 

Author Official Site

 

Buy "Green Angel"

@bookdepository.co.uk

 

 

or "Green Heart" ( 2 in 1)

@bookdepository.co.uk

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