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review 2014-01-26 07:10
Making Faces
Making Faces - Amy Harmon

Making Faces was a really nice surprise in terms of the New Adult genre (which seems to be 90% eye-rolling melodrama) as well as the fact that it's self-published. Despite some predictable elements to the plot, Making Faces was a lovely read. The story unfolds in pieces, building Fern, Ambrose, and Bailey's entertwined pasts until we're in the present and everything comes to a head. The prose was sometimes flat, and there was some telling-not-showing, but then there were moments - and passages - that were really profound & poignant. What Ms. Harmon lacks in prose she makes up for by creating well-rounded characters and building the plot in careful layers. So much NA is heavy on relationship angst and drama, but Making Faces was all about longing & growing up & the heartbreak of life & moving forward. 


"I've loved you since you quoted Hamlet like you understood him, since you said you loved ferris wheels more than roller coasters because life shouldn't be lived at full speed, but in anticipation and appreciation."

“She decided she would just be a fairy because she liked the option of flying without the responsibility of saving the world.”

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review 2013-12-28 07:47
A Monster Calls
A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness,Jim Kay

Additional shelving titles for this one could be: Requires Chocolate (Because Professor Lupin Said So), Have Your Tissue(s) Handy, Even Adults Can Enjoy Illustrations, Everyone Should Read This.

 

A beautiful story about love, loss, holding on, and letting go... and a breathtaking monster that "goes walking" only in the most dire of circumstances. In this instance, it's for Conor O'Malley as he & his family watch his mother lose her battle to cancer. This book was not what I thought it would be - it was so much more. So lovely and heart wrenching and full of lessons and metaphors and humor and things that make you THINK.

 

It's always a treat to read a book with such a well-crafted story and told in such beautiful words. My reader's gratitude goes to Siobhan Dowd for her idea, and Patrick Ness who ran with it & made all sorts of trouble.

 

 

“If you speak the truth, the monster whispered in his ear, you will be able to face whatever comes.”

 

 

“Stories don't always have happy endings."
This stopped him. Because they didn't, did they? That's one thing the monster had definitely taught him. Stories were wild, wild animals and went off in directions you couldn't expect.”

 

 

Because humans are complicated beasts, the monster said. How can a queen be both a good witch and a bad witch? How can a prince be a murderer and a saviour? How can an apothecary be evil-tempered but right-thinking? How can a parson be wrong-thinking but good-hearted? How can invisible men make themselves more lonely by being seen?

"I don't know," Connor shrugged, exhausted. "Your stories never made any sense to me."

The answer is that it does not matter what you think, the monster said, because your mind will contradict itself a hundred times each day. You wanted her to go at the same time you were desperate for me to save her. Your mind will believe comforting lies while also knowing the painful truths that make those lies necessary. And your mind will punish you for believing both.

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review 2013-12-22 21:20
Hurt
Hurt - Tabitha Suzuma

Ugh. What a heart-wrenchingly drawn out book. Never lacking on Ms. Suzuma's beautiful words or her painfully real depictions of a person in anguish, this one, however, falls short of the near-perfection of Forbidden. I think it was the overly drawn-out reveal of Matheo's life-changing incident that grew tiresome to me. Don't get me wrong, her portrayal of his pain & anguish were spot on & devastating - but it went on for so very very long...and then was brought up short by the ending. Which, you kind piece together what had happened & where she's going, but not the VERY ending. That pushed it all over the edge for me. After the build-up to the big reveal - and the build-up of a particular character's strength & steadfastness   throughout the entire novel, it just made no sense for me to end it the way Suzuma ended it. Still, Hurt was an engrossing novel by an extremely capable author, one who I will always jump at the chance to read. 

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review 2013-10-28 13:03
Allegiant
Allegiant - Veronica Roth

A LOT of feelings. So many emotions. My 4 stars (rather than 5) are not for the ending, which I thought was actually very well done, but for the content around the middle. For the (many many) overall themes & incredibly astute observations about life & love & the world we live in, Ms Roth gets all of the stars.

“You don’t believe things because they make your life better, you believe them because they’re true.”

“And as I stare out at the land, I think that this, if nothing else, is compelling evidence for my parents’ God, that our world is so massive that it is completely out of our control, that we cannot possibly be as large as we feel."

“There is a difference between admitting and confessing. Admitting involves softening, making excuses for things that cannot be excused; confessing just names the crimes at its full severity.”

“I belong to the people I love, and they belong to me- they, and the love and loyalty I give them, form my identity far more than any word or group ever could.”

“Just as I have insisted on his worth, he has always insisted on my strength, insisted that my capacity is greater than I believe. And I know, without being told, that's what love does, when it's right-it makes you more than you were, more than you thought you could be. This is right.”

“We are not people who touch each other carelessly; every point of contact between us feels important, a rush of energy and relief.”

“She said that everyone has some evil inside them, and the first step to loving anyone is to recognize the same evil inside ourselves,so we're able to forgive them.”

“To me, when someone wrongs you, you both share the burden of that wrongdoing - the pain of it weighs on both of you. Forgiveness, then, means choosing to bear the full weight all by yourself. Caleb's betrayal is something we both carry, and since he did it, all I've wanted is for him to take its weight away from me. I am not sure that I'm capable of shouldering it all myself - not sure that I am strong enough, or good enough.”

“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved for the sake of something greater.”

"Be brave."

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review 2013-10-08 08:30
Blankets
Blankets - Craig Thompson

This book was doubly daunting to me in that A) it's HUGE (seriously, the paperback copy is gorgeous and HEAVY) and B) it was my first graphic novel. I hesitated for over a month before finally digging in - and was immediately enthralled. The graphics are nothing short of stunning and they way Thompson is able to express so much with just the right balance of illustration and words is amazing. Talent? Thompson's got it.

The focus of the novel is on the short (but incredibly influential) 2-week relationship he has with Raina, a girl he meets at church camp and is used as a framework to reveal different parts of the past: his childhood & his relationship with his brother, their rural, fundamentalist upbringing with parents who are harsh disciplinarians, their past of sexual abuse at the hands of a babysitter, and how all of that informs his decision to eventually leave the church. Not a light read, though there is much light-heartedness infused throughout.

 

My main issue with the novel is the sexual abuse that Craig & his brother suffer at the hands of a male babysitter. It's alluded to at first, and then a few pages later Thompson returns to it with a bit more about what happened. But then it hangs there for the rest of the story, with no follow-up, no exploration of its effects... nothing. Clearly it influenced his sexuality as he grew into an adolescent and then a teen, and the way he showed (or rather, didn't show) responsibility for his younger brother. But I wish there had been more direct integration of its effects later in the novel.

 

It's 582 pages of some powerful illustrations - sacred moments captured so beautifully and full of movement & nuance. Common moments in childhood are joyfully revisited as he & his brother Phil share a room growing up, while the loneliness of young adulthood is expressed with eloquence and heartbreak. It also contains a lot of big moments in a young persons life as Craig grapples with his religious beliefs, guilt about not protecting Phil better when they were little, family, first love and burgeoning sexuality. The pacing is not the best at points (especially the ending, which felt very rushed to me) and some important elements were left at loose ends but overall it was a really beautiful and emotional novel.

 

"But in that little pathetic clump of blankets there was comfort."

 

“I wanted a heaven. And I grew up striving for that world-- an eternal world- that would wash away my temporary misery.”

 

"Shame is always easier to handle if you have someone to share it with."

 

"I couldn't fathom that the soul trapped in my child body would be transplanted to its grotesque adolescent counterpart."

 

“Maybe I'm sad about wanting you. I'm not too comfortable with wanting someone.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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