Wednesday, 26 December 2012

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

'The Lover's Dictionary'basis, n.

There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.

If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it—you’re done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face.

How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.'

This book is told through definitions, so it was extremely quick to get through. I enjoyed the concept of the book, the writing was faultless, and the way that David Levithan built up descriptions of characters that we don't even know the name of very witty and creative.

However, as much as I enjoyed the above aspects of the book, and as much as it was so different from anything I have ever read before, I didn't love the book as much as I hoped to. The picture of the characters that were built up was done very well, but it didn't lead to me becoming particularly attached to them. I ended up seeing them as objects, rather than people would I could ever empathise with or feel for.

I also felt as if the structure of the novel was a bit hap-hazard and never felt immersed in the story at any point throughout the book, which was a shame, as the writing was so reflective and artistic.

Overall, I gave The Lover's Dictionary 3/5 stars. It was an enjoyable read and the concept was very unique, but it just didn't really work as a novel for me.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, #1)'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.'

Wow. Just wow. I was so blown away by this book, I can't even express it in words.

Before starting this book I was a little skeptical; YA romance, a dead ringer for insta love and whiny protagonists. It was only once I had finished the first chapter that I realsied Pushing the Limits was not so typical at all.

This book dealt with so many deep emotions and dark themes that is was the complete opposite of the lifeless contemporary I was expecting. Echo and Noah were so well developed that I found myself, at times, on the brink of tears or at others, laughing along with them, experiencing everything they did, caring about them more than I ever thought I would.

The romance was not too overbearing; it played a major part in the story, definitely, but the plot was still there, Echo's struggle to remember what had happened to her and Noah's fight for custody of his brothers tied in to everything else that happened throughout the book. I was kept reading to the end to find out what would happen to every single character, major or minor, so the author did a great job of really making me care about them all.

I also loved how Noah and Echo's relationship was realistic; it took a while for them to become something that could be called something, and I loved how Noah respected Echo for everything she chose to do - or not to do. At times, I didn't think they would last, at others I couldn't bear to think of them separated, and I was kept on the edge of my seat until the very last page to find out what would happen regarding their relationship.

Katie McGarry's fluent writing style just made the read all the better; I loved how she subtly intertwined hints of Greek mythology here and there and the alternating points of view flowed really well.

I was actually a little sad once I'd finished the book because I absolutely adored it! A sequel, following Beth, a friend of Noah's, is due to be published next year. It's safe to say that it is sitting right at the very top of my wishlist!

One of the best books I've read all year. 5/5 stars!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Splintered by A.G Howard

Splintered'This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.'

I really, really enjoyed the beginning of this book. Alyssa's quirky nature drew me in straight away, and I was intrigued by her mother's situation and the supposed curse that had been placed upon their family since Alice had fallen down the rabbit hole.

However, from about 30% - 70% of the novel, I got bored. I was really excited about the concept, but once Alyssa actually went down the rabbit hole, I lost interest rapidly, which I think may have been due to the extremely confusing romance.

Alyssa's relationship with Jeb, who is one of the main love interests in the novel, seemed to go from nothing to everything in a matter of pages, which really annoyed me, because I'm sick of unrealistic romances in YA. Then, just as quickly as the romance developed, it cooled off, and it seemed like every other chapter the two lovebirds were arguing and then making up again. It really distracted me from the main plot, which is why the middle dragged for me.

I found the other love interest, Morpheus, much more interesting and developed than Jeb. At times, he seemed cruel, but at others, his more sensitive and hurt side was revealed, which actually left me feeling quite sorry for him.

The descriptions of what lay underneath the rabbit hole were very well developed, and the dark undertones of both the place and of the normally harmless characters in the original story very vivid. I even found myself a little unsettled at times at how twisted things seemed.

The ending really picked up, and the explanation for everything was really well done. Overall, I gave Splintered 3.5/5 stars, and would recommend that you pick it up if you enjoyed Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Thank you to NetGalley & Amulet Books for providing me with the opportunity of reading this book!

Friday, 14 December 2012

The Field Guide by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi

'When the three Grace children -- Mallory, Jared, and Simon -- and their mom move into Aunt Lucinda's old house, readers know there's magic afoot. The kids uncover a nest of assembled junk, and on a visit to the secret library via the dumbwaiter, Jared finds a note describing "my secret to all mankind." After a few mysterious pranks that get blamed on Jared, the boy finally digs up the real prize: Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You. Fortunately enough, the kids meet one of the critters listed in the guide -- a brownie named Thimbletack -- who makes it all "real" and helps provide the book's suspenseful conclusion: "'Throw the book away, toss it in a fire. If you do not heed, you will draw their ire.''
This book is the first of five in the Spiderwick Chronicles. I will be reviewing each of them separately on this blog, to tie in with my comprehensive review of the entire series and the movie on my YouTube channel, so I will leave a link to that video after I have posted it.

This book revovles around three siblings, Jared, Simon and Mallory Grace, who move to their old aunt's ramshackle house after their dad leaves. Although this is a children's book, there were deeper emotions running throughout the story regarding their family situation, and at times I did really feel for the Grace children, especially Jared, when their actions hinted at what they were really feeling inside.

The writing was beautiful; very simple, and straight to the point, but still descriptive enough to make everything within the novel seem vivid and real. The writing made it very easy to whiz through, and even though the book is only short, helped by fly through it even quicker.

The Field Guide really sets up the foundations of the entire story told throughout the series, introducing us to Arthur Spiderwick, the creator of the Field Guide, and we also have an introduction to some of the fantastical creatures that I'm sure will feature heavily onwards throughout the series.

I also just want to mention the illustrations in the book as I felt they added a lot to the overall feel of the story and really made the book beautiful. Overall, I gave The Field Guide 5/5 stars, and am happy to say that I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. I recommend that you pick it up if you haven't already!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

'Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.'
This book was a book that I jumped into having no idea what it was about, which is unusual for me, as since I have become part of the book-blogging and vlogging community, there is rarely a time when I pick up a book having not seen at least one review on it before.

However, I think, for this book, it was better that way. The relatioship that Eleanor and Park have is one of the most realistic ones that I have ever found in a YA novel. The story is told beautifully through the author's poetic descriptions, and the harsh reality that often came crashing down on the two main characters was such a breath of fresh air after reading so many YA romances where it is all rainbows and bunnies.

At times, the two main characters annoyed me in their own separate ways; I sometimes found Eleanor's needy, stubborn attitude irritating, and wished that she wasn't so scared of everything. Then again, it could be argued that what she had been through was what had made her that way, so I was torn over whether I really liked her or not.

What I did like, however, was the quirkiness of their relationship. They get to know each other through sharing comics and albums from the time it is set in, which makes the vivid yet simple descriptions seem all the more real.

Overall, I gave this book 4/5 stars. I would definitely recommend it if you like realistic romances, and if, like me, you would like a break from the typical YA lovey-dovey love stories. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for sending this to me for review.
(P.S. How amazing is that cover?!)

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

The Luxe (Luxe, #1)
Pretty girls in pretty dresses, partying until dawn.
Irresistible boys with mischievous smiles and dangerous intentions.
White lies, dark secrets, and scandalous hookups.
This is Manhattan, 1899. Beautiful sisters Elizabeth and Diana Holland rule Manhattan's social scene. Or so it appears. When the girls discover their status among New York City's elite is far from secure, suddenly everyone--from the backstabbing socialite Penelope Hayes, to the debonair bachelor Henry Schoonmaker, to the spiteful maid Lina Broud--threatens Elizabeth's and Diana's golden future.

With the fate of the Hollands resting on her shoulders, Elizabeth must choose between family duty and true love. But when her carriage overturns near the East River, the girl whose glittering life lit up the city's gossip pages is swallowed by the rough current. As all of New York grieves, some begin to wonder whether life at the top proved too much for this ethereal beauty, or if, perhaps, someone wanted to see Manhattan's most celebrated daughter disappear...
I absolutely adored this book! I was drawn in at first by the pretty cover, and it certainly didn't disappoint! At first, the amount of characters can make it difficult to discern who the five teenagers mentioned in the synopsis are, but after a while everything settles down and it is very easy to immerse yourself in the story.
Godbersen's writing really brings the time to life, and her vivid descriptions make everything seem all the more real. Her characters are so well rounded that I finished the book feeling as if I knew them personally, and the particularly rebellious characters I grew to love most of all.
The ending of this book fitted the rest of it perfectly, making me desperate to read the next one. I did see what was coming, but I didn't know how Godbersen would do it. I'm pleased to say, she did it very well!

Overall, I gave this book 5/5 stars. Thanks for reading, and what did you think of The Luxe?