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review 2014-07-12 14:54
Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #3.5) by Maggie Stiefvater
Sinner - Maggie Stiefvater

I am not going to lie- the minute I skimmed over Cole’s name in the blurb, was the minute I clicked that glowing TBR button on GR; long have I been a fan of Cole then Isabel (but really, mostly Cole). SINNER has them both fully fleshed out, flaws and all… and they are both nothing if not flawed.

There’s this internal struggle for the two. For him, there’s that push-pull-pull between being his old self, performing and loving the same versus being more than that- the guy he’d learned to become in Mercy Falls. So, there’s this sad bit that could have gone poor little rich boy for him, except not really. It’s in performing for the crowd that he truly came alive; it’s not him as hapless something or other. No, not at all as the Cole here is totally aware of the game as well as the role he was to have in it. As a consequence, we have is him reveling in it. It’s this same thing that made things more complicated. Was he really more than just what he’d put on display? And if the answer is initially clear to him, the more time spent in LA, the more emotional hurdles cropped up for him to deal with (or not deal with as was sometimes the case), the less clear everything turned out to be.

Then turn to Isabel, for her things are a bit more muted, but no less emotional. For her change abounds the same leaving her unsure as to how to go about things. First, that a shift in what’s become of her family; and then that shift in what to expect from Cole. While you’d think perception would play a big role in his end of the story, it seemed, to me at least, to play just as big a part in how things were unfolding for her… and if possible in an even more complicated manner. For her there’s Perception based on expectation, as well as Perception based on history and what’s familiar. The way she deals with things is… not at all. And that above all is what made her real for me. Yes, she’s the pretty sad girl, but she’s also the scary one, then the funny one, then the mean one. She’s more than the Isabel from Mercy.

This is more than just a werewolf in LA (though it starts that way.) What we have a guy standing in front of a girl asking…. Oh, Wait. What we have is both the guy and the girl seeing possibility in who they both could be as individuals then together but more importantly we why that is.

Thank you, NG!

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review 2014-07-07 13:49
Just One Night by Gayle Forman
Just One Night - Gayle Forman

Books One and Two allow us more than a love story. Both pave the way for clarity in who they were both becoming- as to who they both were as individuals, and then who they both could become for each other. Both books: Romantic, slow, and yes, all about the swoon, but not just. Because of both are about the journeys they both embark: her and her One Day, with him as her guide; and then him and his Year after that.

I loved Book One because of the possibilities opened to her; I loved Book Two because of the links to who he was and that time and again juxtaposed to who they could become; specifically a past found in the examples set by Yael and Bram and then the “who they could become…” Them.

But this One Night of theirs, is a sweet exclamation to all of the above, as it is an elaboration on the blurry bits for both. And I loved it for that reason: as within is a confirmation as to their truth: that he loves her; she is more to him than any other girl come before; that she loves him, he is more to her than just the First Guy/ the One who could have gotten away.

I have much love for this one.

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review 2014-05-04 13:14
Wildlife by Fina Wood
Wildlife - Fiona Wood

I loved all the contrasts made between Strangers and Friends. Of Best friends and Maybe friends. Then the choices on who they were versus those on what they could be. Then options against perception. On belief in self versus contentment in the same. One of them in her comfort zone and then later the same exploring other ones. So, there’s what makes them “them” versus the paths that lead elsewhere. So, Changes (changes. CHANGES!) on one hand, and then Grief (Grief. GRIEF!) on the other. But mostly, it’s them being not-so great then wait a beat and it’s them being just that; it’s the ordinary feel they all bring to each their stories that I loved.

So, flashback to what I loved in SIX IMPOSSIBLE THINGS: a lot about Dan and Jane and definitely a little bit because Fred and then forward to WILDLIFE- less the sweet and happy in the possibilities from the first, and more with the real and the really SAD. In other word: emotion.

Enter, LOU and Syb.

Lou is the object of much affection from me. Her moving her way through all the things she’s feeling and SIMULTANEOUSLY being the observer sets her apart. It’s the last that allows for two things to happen: we know her but we also see what she sees. And it’s In knowing her that we feel for her (and frankly, already five percent, I was already teary over all the things she was saying and more importantly- not saying.)

With each moment of her feeling what she was, it’s made clear things are not easy for her (for any of them really.). There’s no easy fix for her because the good doesn’t come in a snap. It’s in working through that, that we get to KNOW her. On the other hand, there’s Lou as observer: we see what she does. It’s in this that a more complete picture of how the others could be is made. There’s a stripped down and more accurate version of Syb offered up as a consequence. She’s less the good girl going with the flow, because flaws are made obvious in this one; flaws not limited to the Mean Girls present in this one either.

And Speak of flaws: we have Syb. I love that she’s different: aware of who she was and how she could be “better” but not bothering to move toward the same because knowing who she was that there’s this lack of drama from her (for the most part.) Or more apt: there’s drama but not much of her being dragged down by the same. I just love that. In the face of all things going on- she could be regular kid, not needing to be the best thing or the greatest thing; happy to have things unfold as they were. Yet, it’s in not-acting , this always reactive stance she has that makes her even more real for me.

It’s a love story. It’s a love between me and this book, rather than one between any one of the characters. Because I loved this. And I loved them.

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review 2014-04-20 10:46
Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
Everything Leads to You - Nina LaCour

Everything Leads to You starts with this modern noir feel of bestfriends on the trail left behind by a silver screen icon, then shifts into something even more quiet, as the mystery of a letter and its contents, are pushed aside and become more about this new person and the draw she has for Emi. So, a love story... eventually, but not just.

More- it's all of them on the cusp of this new thing: acting-talking-and taking on their more grown up roles, but punctuated with moments of them, being not-quite the adults they picture themselves becoming. They swing back and forth and back from trying to be grown-up TO not-quite managing it. It's this particular aspect of the book that I enjoyed most. Because they all act so adult, sophisticated, and in the know, when really, they're not any of those things... yet.

Emi and Charlotte- reveal an interesting contrast, too. Both 18 and raring to get their adult lives started, but both so young too. It's the second that's most obvious: in their talk of fantasy-reality and the fall of one versus build up of the other. The very concept that not all is evident BUT can be made so, felt so young to me. Them pointing that out at all- felt like such young thing. But, if first there's wonder and possibility and appreciation for both; later there's the other side of them finding what's previously wonderful/fantastic become not just that, the more familiar they become with it.

It's a theme that's repeated here- Emi as a designer and her work in movies; Charlotte and her ability to line things up- both make the more obvious example. Movies as magic versus little tricks and tips and what not. Yet, Emi still holds true despite... despite the learning; she stills sees possibilities. So right there a contrast: she's young but not young; an adult-in-the-making.

Another bit of stripping down is of Ava and Jamal pointing out how Emi's and Charlotte's own reality is part fantasy... especially when contrasted against J's and A's own; as theirs is neither as possibility filled or optimistic as E's and C's.

And later- and last- where Ava is concerned; as seen in the eyes of Emi, there's a movie being made around her (another thing that establishes just how young the MC really is in this one is); because for Emi, she's all these almost childish scenarios of epic love story and a host of other what if's, but it is Ava who's the object of all those what if's. Yet, the moment that ceased and once, more 'stripping down' was done, there's a lot of seeing things for what they were and appreciating things-people- more for the same. This has more than one Fantasy collapse- time and time again; and it's that for all of them that allows the Real-and the better- to come into focus.

They've all cast themselves in some role that they want or think they should have, but once they set those aside, I enjoyed them all more. But there were flaws in this nonetheless- like the too perfect way Emi is- she's just too 'great!' in too many aspects but if objectively seen is not really all that. Her tendency to romanticize things was especially difficult to get over- her and her dream job and what she could/would do; her and her object of admiration/affection/lust/maybe-love had me wondering over her ability to frame things and see things in a certain (unreal?) light. Neither did I appreciate the too simple oppositions: on one side Emi, happy and on the other Ava, not happy at all. It's too easy, the lines made... too simple the differences, pointed out.

Still, I enjoyed this for them and that they're all on the edge of something; with most of them taking on adult roles, but still holding on to a sense of innocence... shedding that last slowly with each fantasy that's collapsed.

thank you, e!

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review 2014-04-16 10:00
Inland by Kat Rosenfield
Inland - Kat Rosenfield

 

In books, in songs, in stories love is a floating thing.

A falling thing. A flying thing. A good bye to all your little earthbound worries, as you soar heart-first toward a pink sky and your dangling feet forget to feel the ground.

Only I know, now: it isn’t like that at all. 

Love is a sense of place. It’s effortless, no stumbling, no stammering,. It’s your own voice, quite but strong, and the sense that you can open your mouth, speak your mind, and never feel afraid. 

A known quantity, a perfect fit.

It’s the thing that holds you tight to earth, fast and solid and sure. You feel it, and feel that it’s right and true, and you know exactly where you are: 

Here



Moody and quiet and thoughtful, Inland is not a happy story told; there’s a general sense of longing on all their parts with varying basis. Callie Morgan longs for something as yet unnamed; her father longs for what isn’t anymore- his perfect wife and their happy family. Nessa knows what she cannot have and sees the futility in the same, instead works with what she’s dealt with, makes do and almost (but not quite) flourishes. 

The writing is beautifully written, and is told by a girl -whose perspective had me doubting a host of things- who initiates things with her experiences of being alone as well as being lonely; and then weaves with those first more memories of a mother- recollections that are cloaked, like everything else in this the story is cloaked - in the unsure; second, the novelty and uncertainty of her present.

Her mother is a memory and she doubts what she remembers. It’s an uncertainty that extends to almost everything here. The new things she’s allowed and how she’s not quite ready to claim any of it- pointing out how “unreal” all the “normal” was for her. All of it is couched in a sense that there are things that are deserved but there’s also a whole lot more that aren’t. It’s her and a general sense of, “Mine. But why?” And later, “until when?”

Thank you, Penguin FtR!

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