Monday, December 30, 2013

Favourite Movies of 2013


Okay lovelies, I have a confession. I watch a lot of movies, and oftentimes, I'll watch a movie instead of reading a book. But that just means I have a ton of favourites that I'd like to share with you-- as usual, this list is personal, biased, purely my opinion, and based on how much I liked a movie, not me evaluating "how good the movie is." You'll probably be able to tell that yes, I do like those blockbuster movies, and nope, I don't care if you judge me. Also, if you're interested, you can click here for my favourites from last year. It's a long post, so sit tight :)

**

TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2013

you can click the picture to make it a wee bit bigger... I guess...
10. 12 Years a Slave
-I can recognize that this movie is a true achievement in filmmaking with incredibly visceral performances, but I can’t exactly say that I loved it. I just know I walked out of the theatre with a heavy, heavy heart.

9. The Way Way Back
-One of my favourite underdog coming-of-age films that was thoughtful, heartwarming, awkwardly funny and made me smile contently. It also seemed to achieve the impossible by making me hate Steve Carell. It flew a bit under the radar, but it’s a wonderful ‘family’ movie.

8. The Heat
-laugh out loud raucously funny, a bit vulgar, with female characters in the most brilliant light. I remember sneaking into a showing of this with my friends (in between sneaking into a different movie) and just not leaving til the movie was over, cause it was so funny.

7. Prisoners
-I’m not one for scary or suspenseful movies, and this one had me on the edge of my seat and my heart beating fast. Intense, exhilarating performances from Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal that really has me thinking to what degree one might go to save someone they love. I really liked the plot twists, and one of the suspects gives such a convincingly creepy vibe it gave me heebie-jeebies.

6. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
-guys, I’m a LOTR (movie) fangirl, and any movie that gives me a taste of Middle Earth has my complete gratitude. I adore the world that Peter Jackson has brought to life, and this installment was equally fun, action-packed, elf-packed (eff yes, Tauriel and Legolas), with magnificent Smaug-CGI and gosh, do I adore Thorin and Bilbo. I’m hugely biased since the LOTR movies are my favourite of all time, but honestly I just walked out of the theatre feeling entertained and that I got my full money’s worth.




5. Frozen
-OMG you guys! This movie! I didn’t expect to adore it as much as I did, and I bet I sound like every other Tumblr blog out there, but I just loved the fact that it was about sisters saving each other. I adored both Elsa and Anna, along with Sven, Olaf, and Kristoff.. basically everyone. It was funny, heartwarming, and full of great songs (I have “Let it Go” on repeat right now). It’s a Disney movie so it’s understandably joyful and fluffy (but if I had my way, I’d love to have made it full of heartbreak, sacrifice, and darkness).

4. Iron Man 3
-I love Iron Man. I love RDJ’s portrayal of him, I love the witty quips, the action scenes, the plot twists, even the ridiculous amount of flying suits (okay, scratch that last part). Everything just works for me, and I don’t care about you rolling your eyes at my mainstream favourites. Are you not entertained?! I really was. 

3. Catching Fire
-*breathes into a paper bag* I saw this at the midnight showing in IMAX and I just remember it blowing all my expectations out of the water, making the first movie seem like utter crap with its brilliance, and making me remember just why Jennifer Lawrence is like a perfect human being. It made me cry a few times (this is a good thing) and I forgot just enough of the book to be caught off guard by the timing of events, which just made it better in my mind. I didn’t have the book fresh in my memory so I could enjoy the movie for what it was- and I thought it had great character development, cool arena action scenes, excellent pacing, and stayed faithful to the book, setting up a third movie that I’m personally very eager to see. 

2. Star Trek: Into Darkness
-I was so, so close to making this my top movie of the year. Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto… who says I’m not superficial…but seriously, there is some seriously eye-catching *cough* upsides to this movie… performance-wise, of course. But my shallowness aside, I just really loved this because I was just so gosh-darn satisfied when I was watching it. All the twists and turns, the fight scenes, the Spock-Kirk interactions, the spaceship scenes… it just made me happy as I was watching because I was enjoying everything about the movie so much. I’m just like, vigorously making hand motions trying to convey just how elated I felt when watching, and I don’t really know why. I think it was just exactly what I wanted. 

1. Before Midnight
-Okay, after some serous debate.. I made this number one. Because I wanted to bring attention to this trilogy (I’m going to mention the other two below, in my non-2013 list) because I love it so, so much. It’s just so full of life, feelings, love, authenticity, and surreally realistic dialogue. This entire series is just two characters that talk about life—but not in like pretentious philosophical terms, it’s just them carrying a conversation—and it just completely works, on every level. It just feels so intimate and this last one especially was tough to watch at times, but these two characters are really something special, and Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy completely embody them. It’s a quiet drama and a brilliant movie, and I dearly hope in 9 years, they'll make another one.


Honourable Mentions (2013 movies):
(in no particular order)

Don Jon
-an interesting view on relationships, but just didn’t exactly hit the notes exactly right for me

The Book Thief
-HANS HUBERMANN AND RUDY STEINER give me my tears back 

The Place Beyond the Pines
-Intense, three-act type of plot that was completely unexpected for me, but nevertheless engrossing and with top-notch performances

Mud
-I adored this story, and with a great performance from Matthew McConaughey, it’s a touching story from a boy’s point of view about romance. But that’s not it, there’s so many other themes in there and I think it deserves a rewatch.
This is the End
-I laughed a lot, which is always a bonus. The plot kind of went awry for me when they had to get serious about actually having a plot, but hey, there’s a lot of funny moments

Rush
-I knew almost nothing about this movie going in, but from the first moment of the hyper-intensified roar of the engines, I was caught up in this great rivalry between these two competitive, polar-opposite men and Daniel Bruhl’s performance is especially praise-worthy. Really, this was one of the unexpected gems of the year, and definitely give it a try even if it doesn’t seem like your thing.

Pacific Rim
-I don’t care what you say, I found this hugely enjoyable, and if I liked watching giant robots fighting each other for two hours, I’ll consider that time well spent. Kudos to the ending and how kick-ass Mako Mori was.. and the soundtrack rocked. 

The World’s End
-the winning combination of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright just makes me smile—it’s cleverly funny, action-packed, full of plot twists and some unexpected introspectiveness and thought into our life trajectories. It wasn’t exactly as amazing as I hoped it was going to be, I think Hot Fuzz will still remain my favourite of the “Cornetto Trilogy”


WORST MOVIES WATCHED IN 2013

Grease (1978)
-gahhhh I couldn't stand this

Rent (2005)
-ughhh, annoying

The Bling Ring (2013)
-didn’t realize I could hate these characters and Emma Watson’s character’s stupid accent so much

A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)
-you just ruined one of my favourite movie series (the first Die Hard is still one of my top movies ever) and I will never forgive you. In fact, I actually kind of hate Bruce Willis for allowing this cash cow to continue and insulting viewers with such utter BS. This was such a crap movie and such a huge disservice to the character of John McClane. /rant



TOP 9 MOVIES NOT RELEASED IN 2013


9. Seven Psychopaths (2012)
-great dialogue and a plot that surprised me, plus it was overall pretty funny. 

8. The Breakfast Club (1985)
-I went on a John Hughes binge this summer, and this one remains my favourite—I see why they call it a classic.

7. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
-There was also a Quentin Tarantino binge at the beginning of the year, and I loved this movie and its take on WWII… or maybe I just thought Christoph Waltz’s performance was off the charts.

6. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
-my brother just hates Robert Downey Jr. but I don’t… and this movie is just fabulous. Val Kilmer’s performance as Gay Perry had me laughing out loud, as did some of the crazy moments that happen (“Who taught you math?!”). I loved the look and feel of the movie with the cinematography and the music, and sheesh, did I love the dialogue. 

5. Forrest Gump (1994)
-It took me forever to finally get around to watching this movie, and it was fantastic. Apart from Jenny being a total bitch. 



4. Lost in Translation (2003)
-Ughhh you guys, I love this movie so hard. It’s one of those things that you feel as if you watched at the exact perfect time, with the right mindset and age so that it really speaks to you (such as reading Ender’s Game when you’re 12, or reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower when you’re 15). I thought this weird relationship between the two characters and their various adventures with each other while trying to navigate their own lives was so enchanting. The movie managed to create a quiet, intimate mood within such a short time span, and I loved it.

3. Before Sunrise (1995)  &
2. Before Sunset (2004)
-These two are going together, Before Sunrise is the first installment, Before Sunset is the second (and Before Midnight is the third). Each movie is filmed like, nine years apart, and each is like a snapshot of these two characters (Celine from France and American-born Jesse) at a specific time in their lives, on a specific day. In Before Sunrise, they’re meeting for the first time as university-aged students, and they just spend one night talking and walking around the city, and it feels so real. Each personality really shines through and these characters just feel like actual people with doubts, insecurities, and beliefs. It’s a bit similar to the premise of Just One Day by Gayle Forman, and I know this sounds scandalous, but I liked this movie version much better. The second movie, Before Sunset, takes place 9 years later where these two have moved on and have their own lives in different countries, but unexpectedly meet up and again, just walk and talk and really, I can’t explain how freaking good it is. They’re different people, they’ve got different life experiences, but as they collide again it’s just sparks and unmatched chemistry.

1. Once (2006)
-This movie!! Ahh, it is soooo freaking good. My friend watched it and thought it was boring, but gosh, I just loved everything about it. The quiet-ness, the music, the tentative friendship, the awkwardness, the beauty that is these two characters. These characters just came to life and jumped off the screen and into my heart. 


MOVIES I WANT TO WATCH BUT HAVEN'T:
  • Dallas Buyer’s Club
  • American Hustle
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Gravity (I know!)
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
**
Yes, I will get around to watching those five movies! I love this season when all the Oscar contenders are playing, as opposed to the meh-movies you usually get at the beginning of the year. Anyway, if you read/skimmed through this entire list, good job! If you haven't, I totally don't blame you, I realize how exhaustingly long it is.. I just had a lot to say.

I'd LOVE to know what YOUR favourite movie of the year was-- whether it was one that was released this year, or just one you watched. Did I miss something? Are you going to watch the "Before" trilogy now? I'm always looking out for new recommendations (as long as it's not horror!) so please leave your comments below. And of course, you can always tweet me to talk about movies, I have a lot of free time. 

Thanks to everyone for reading my blog this year, and have a wonderful and safe New Year! 

-Audrey

12.30.2013

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Favourites of 2013

I can't believe 2013 is over! Where the heck did it go?? I don't want to reveal how many books I actually read this year *hides* but I'm sure if you click around on the blog you can find the list... but still, I wanted to make a best-of list. It's similar in topics to the one from last year, and includes a mix of things (from 2011 and 2012) from around the blogosphere, from year-end events hosted by the lovely Nomes at Inkcrush, and the popular 2012 survey hosted by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner.


BOOKS


1. favourite book read in 2013!!!


Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I had only rated this a 9/10, but it's stuck out as the one that gave me such intense feels. I read a lot of more action-y or world-building books (by choice) this year to escape from studying, but this one felt so intimate and beautifully written.



2. book you were excited about but didn't live up to your expectations

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano. I really adore her writing and her wildly imaginative Wither series, but this new book was just unmemorable across the board.




3. best ache-y, heart-breaking, tear-jerker read

ache-y:
The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
there's just something about Sutter that prods at my heart... (read my review)

heart-breaking:
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
after so much, so so much, Rowell chose to end the book that way... oh how my heart hurts

tearjerker:
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
I read this because I wanted a good cry, and I was not disappointed



4. delicious, rainy day comfort read

Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund
Last year, my pick for this category was For Darkness Shows the Stars (by Diana Peterfreund). I dunno, this author just has the magical ability to write books that sweep my off my feet right when I need it most. Love love loved it.





5. adrenalin-filled, unputdownable read

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, because that is some killer action in that third act.




6. the beautiful prose award

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
The words are delectable. 




7. most atmospheric and vivid setting

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
I was debating putting this book as "best book of 2013" because it's kind of the whole-package. This was an easy choice for this category though, I mean, any book that can make me use a big chunk of my spare time thinking about the currency of the world deserves to win. The world created by Rothfuss is crazy imaginative, thoughtful, and ridiculously engaging.



8. best under-appreciated, hidden-gem book

Vortex by S.J. Kincaid
Guys, I LOVE this series. I consistently call it "fast-paced escapism fun" and it's kind of like Harry Potter with a technology twist. It's so good! 


9. i-had-no-idea-i-would-love-this-so award
Champion by Marie Lu
It's funny, because I didn't really remember much from book 2 so I was a bit reluctant to try this one... but guys, I needed a whole day to recover. It was such a stunning conclusion, and a billion kudos to Marie Lu-- I was thinking about this for days.



10. outside my comfort zone but gosh how i loved it

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
It's not super well known in the YA world (to my knowledge) but damn, I see what the big deal is now. 




11. an unfinished series that i'm loving 

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer 
Same as last year! I just finished Cress.. it was fantastic. Marissa Meyer, you are incredible.

Honourable Mention: Insignia by SJ Kincaid (Can't wait for book 3, Catalyst!) The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss definitely deserves a mention, and of course, the Dustlands trilogy by Moira Young.





12. can't believe i waited so long to read this

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Spurred by the movie trailer, I read this one (finally) and loved it. Read this while you're young is my advice. But it kind of ruined the movie for me.. (books are always better)






13. book that lived up to (or superseded) the hype

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
I didn't think it would be as good as people said it would be. I've never been more wrong in all my life. (quoting Thorin from The Hobbit movie)







14. want to re-read already

Cress by Marissa Meyer
Okay, so this gets released next year but guys it is SO GOOD, I adored it so much. Please start reading this series if you haven't already.




MOMENTS


1. best plot-twist (no spoilers!)

More Than This by Patrick Ness
This ENTIRE book. I never knew where it was going, apart from vaguely towards the town of "holy shit what is happening" whilst passing through "Patrick Ness is such a genius".

Honourable Mention: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson-- pretty cool twist ending you got there, kid. 


2. best swoon-worthy moment

"Hi," he says. "I'm Daniel." 
"Hi," I reply. "I'm June." 

-Champion by Marie Lu
I just remember letting out a little happy sigh. I think you've heard me rave enough about this book, yeah.





3. best cliffhanger

Cress by Marissa Meyer
Okay, again, unfair because this is released in 2014, but stillllllllll.




4. best ending for a stand-alone

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
Far, far, far from the happily ever after... so of course I liked it. (If you're curious about my thoughts on the movie, you can click here).





5. best ending for a series

Champion by Marie Lu (The Legend trilogy) because ahhhhhh if you haven't figured it out, I just loved it so darned much. And once again, I feel the need to sing Marie Lu some praises because it was a brave ending, but the perfect one that I didn't know I wanted.
It should be noted, though, I didn't finish that many series this year...




CHARACTERS

1. most memorable female character

Persis Blake - Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund
I HAVE A HUGE GIRL-CRUSH ON YOU.


2. most memorable male character

Kvothe - The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (also, The Wise Man's Fear)
This one goes out to the over-confident, clever, adventurous character who gets into too much trouble and understands that to tell a story correctly, you have a lie a little. 


3. favourite friendship

Cath and Reagan - Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. 
They were pretty awesome, weren't they?


4. favourite relationship 

Day and June - Champion by Marie Lu
These two are just perfect. gah. 

Honourable Mention: Persis and Justen from Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund, as well as Scarlet and Wolf from Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (tortured love interests ftw)

5. new literary crush

Second year in a row where nobody fills this role... 


6. favourite sibling relationship

none! what? why! :(


7. best villain

The Chandrian - The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Honestly, just cause they make this series possible and my life would be worse without this series in my life.



OTHER

1. favourite cover (of a book i read)



I adore the colour scheme and the illustration, it's so eye-catching! Rainbow Rowell definitely has had some excellent luck with her covers.

Honourable mentions include Champion by Marie Lu, More Than This by Patrick ness, and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer.



2. book you're looking forward to the most in 2014

This year's list: The Howling Boy by Cath Crowley, Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, Raging Star by Moira Young, Catalyst by S.J. Kincaid, The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey.

And to Markus Zusak, WHEN DOES THE BRIDGE OF CLAY COME OUT?!?!??!??!! (just kidding, take your time)


Last year's list (strike-outs means I read them): Just One Day by Gayle FormanIsla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen, More Than This by Patrick NessThe Crane Wife by Patrick Ness, The Howling Boy by Cath Crowley, Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter, and Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan.

**


And that's it! A long list, a slightly repetitive one, but I tried to spread out my choices and not give all the awards to a select few. I'll be really excited if you choose to read a book based on this post :-)

Once again, a huge thank you to all of you who have stuck around the blog for this year, I really appreciate it and your comments brighten up my day. I hope you have read wonderful, wonderful books and explored fantasy lands and fell in love with characters like I did, there's so many beautiful books out there waiting for us readers. Please let me know what your favourite read was this year in the comments below, I'd LOVE to know!!


Have a fabulous new year, and I love you all! xx

-Audrey

12.29.2014

Monday, December 2, 2013

BR: Champion

by Marie Lu
Legend trilogy; book III 

Wow, I finished a series! I originally wasn’t going to write a review for this, but then I realized that I wrote a review for both books one and two, and I thought it’d be a nice little “set” if I actually wrote something for this third book too. It’s not every day that I finish a series*.

Summary (goodreads)

He is a Legend.
She is a Prodigy.
Who will be Champion?

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps Elect while Day has been assigned a high level military position. But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them once again. Just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything he has.

**

Initially, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to read this third book. To be quite honest, I didn’t really remember what happened in Prodigy (interestingly, when I was going to start Prodigy, I had completely forgotten Legend), but when I saw the fanfare around its release, I reached for Prodigy on my bookshelf and read the last few chapters. And then I got that swooshing feeling in my stomach and thought “Oh. I really have to find out what happens.”

My Thoughts

Boy, I was not ready for this ending. I’ll admit, I needed a full day to recover.

Oh Audrey, jumping so far forward already? Okay, let’s rewind a bit. This book has everything I have come to expect of the series-- fast paced action, fantastic pacing, emotion, great characters, even better character development, awesome world-building, and witty one-liners. In this sense, it definitely didn't disappoint. But that said, Champion wasn’t perfect, in fact, I still ended up with quite a few nitpicks about various things—the plot isn’t super-memorable, the prose could feel clunky and forced at times, and there were some action scenes that felt a bit messy. Sometimes the writing style felt a bit amateur-ish, where there is an overabundance of knife metaphors and emotional descriptions toeing the edge of cheesy. And for some books, that would stop be in my tracks and I wouldn’t be able to notice anything else, but that wasn’t the case.

Once again, Marie Lu saves her book with enthralling, intensely admirable leading characters. They alone allowed me to overlook the other flaws in the book, because I was so caught up in their storylines.

I liked how the characters felt older. I liked how I could recognize their growth and development throughout the series. They’re not kids anymore. They are, but they aren’t.

I really liked the tension, the emotion, and the relationship between our two main characters.

I loved Day. I loved June.

That's what it comes down to, right? These characters we cheer for as we watch them evolve and grow. These characters who come into their own. These characters who jump right into our hearts from the very first page of Legend, and won't leave it at the end of Champion. There's so many reasons why I started this series, but these characters made me stay.

Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: this series is definitely appealing to fans of the blockbuster dystopian series.
Acknowledgements: 4/5, lovely!

8.8/10. Because I love the characters. And the last 35 pages. Those pages were exactly what I didn't know I wanted. That's how you end a series. Beautiful, bittersweet, but ultimately fitting. And that ending has stuck with me for a long time.

And my favourite quote**:
Day just smiles at me, an expression so sad that it breaks through my numbness, and I begin to cry. Those bright blue eyes. Before me is the boy who has bandaged my wounds on the streets of Lake, who has guarded his family with every bone in his body, who has stayed by my side in spite of everything, the boy of light and laughter and life, of grief and fury and passion, the boy whose fate is intertwined with mine, forever and always. 
"I love you," he whispers. "Can you stay awhile?” 









*I am actually immensely adept at not finishing series.
**because run-on sentences are my weakness (no, seriously). Also it reminds me so much of Jellicoe Road.

source: bought
author website / twitter / tumblr
my review of Legend (book 1) and Prodigy (book 2)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

BR: More Than This

by Patrick Ness

Usually there'd be a bit more fanfare from me surrounding Patrick Ness' newest book, but it's been a while and I'm just dusting off this blog.

I finished this book a few weeks ago, and I typed out this review on my phone... yes, on my phone, and then I posted it onto Goodreads. And now it's on my blog. Such a delay obviously indicates my laziness, I think.

Summary (goodreads)

A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this...
**

My Thoughts

I'm currently sitting in bed having finally turned that last page I didn't want to turn.

Firstly, no spoilers. And if you haven't read the book, I suggest you to not read anything about it and go into it blind-- it's best that way.

So... More Than This. It's good. It's not perfect, there's a few bumps, and I think it warrants a second reading because I need a bit more time to make sense of it. I'll admit that I sometimes felt like I was missing a piece, like there was this punch line I wasn't getting. And it's weird to say that because I wasn't reading this book inattentively, I just think my brain is still catching up with the questions posed by the book.

This book has such a fantastic premise, it chugs along full of mystery and suspense, and it's one of this books where you keep reading even though you're 150 pages in and haven't really encountered a single other character. But you KNOW there's something stirring below the surface, and you KNOW as things start bubbling up, it's going to be worth it. And it definitely is.

The secondary characters are beautifully drawn, diverse, and compelling. They were crafted incredibly well and more than once tugged at my heart strings. Seth was fascinating in his own way, he has this past that I was desperate to find out more, and as Ness teased his fate, I could feel my skin tingling. As his backstory unfolded...damn.

There's a lot of questions raised about life and existence, which was one aspect I really loved. The plot was twisty for sure, and it makes you question a lot of what you know.

But the book isn't perfect. I had some issues with the pacing and The Driver (who I think deserves some philosophical thought or whatever, because I want to believe he's more than a faceless thing but I can't quite grasp the analogy yet...I'm not very smart). The writing though, is top-notch, I wouldn't expect anything less. It felt like a bit of the immediacy seeped through from the Chaos Walking trilogy, but it's nevertheless powerful.

I had this thought though, as I was reading. I kept thinking "this is a book that could save someone", it's subtle but it's hopeful, it doesn't shy away from terrible things, but it also presents life as more than what we make of it, more than what we are blinded by in the present. I'm not sure if I'm having a crazy thought, did those of you who read it think the same thing? It's thought-provoking and satisfying, unique, mysterious, and has an ending leaving me wanting just a little bit more. 

8.5/10

Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: I dunno, all of you? ;)
Acknowledgements: none (tsk tsk)








source: library
author twitter / website

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

BR: Across a Star-Swept Sea

by Diana Peterfreund
companion novel to For Darkness Shows the Stars

This was one of my most anticipated books of the YEAR. I have unrestrained adoration for For Darkness Shows the Stars, and to say I was excited for this companion novel with such an interesting premise is a gross implication.

Summary (goodreads)


Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.

On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.

Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.
**

My Thoughts

It was so good. My opinion may be completely clouded by a lot of factors-- for one, I desperately wanted to love it. I wanted to love it, not "I wanted it to be good'... I think there's a difference there. But yes, I did really love it and there's so many reasons and I don't really feel like spelling them out.

A few points first, because I want to be fair and not completely biased. There was definitely some heavy-handed writing, a LOT of "tell not show", especially when it came to trying to portray Justen's view of Persis. I understand why Peterfreund approached it this way, to show the actual growth of the character and how his opinions change, but it felt very forced at times. Entire pages of exposition dedicated to his less-than-ideal view of the heroine. Also, and it saddens me to say, but the "cameo" didn't particularly impress me. But perhaps I was just swept up with the Persis's story and didn't want the detour. It also takes a few chapters to get into the groove of things and make sense of this world-- the Reduced, Regs, Aristos.. a lot of it was kind of overwhelming at the beginning and hard to make sense of.

Okay, onto the good things. PERSIS BLAKE I LOVE YOU. So much. In a similar way that I fell for Elliot North, I felt she was such a stunning, worthy character. Perhaps a bit too awesome/perfect at times, but DAMN all you shitty movie writers out there, THIS IS A FUCKING BADASS STRONG LADY HEROINE. We need more Persis Blakes in the world. She's complicated, alarmingly smart, brave, capable... it's kind of impossible not to admire her. I loved her relationship with Justen (it felt very Pride and Prejudice at times, which was an odd observation but nevertheless an appreciative one), as well has her relationship with the Princess, her parents, and Wild Poppy (heh). I wish there were a few more action scenes, kissing scenes*, and I won't say no to more badassery, and I also appreciated the political game as well (although sometimes it felt a tad clunky).

I'm pretty much fangirling a character, people. Take note.

The writing was well done, and I did enjoy the fact that readers get multiple points of view but not in an obtrusive manner. The adored the descriptions-- the clothes, the people, the sea cave, the glamour, the clothes (yes, honestly)... they all came together to make this book that much more engrossing. And I was desperate to see how Persis' adventures would go. PS- science in books = two thumbs up!

Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: everyone! whee! spread the happiness!
Acknowledgements: awesome! 4/5

8.8/10- because I'll admit, I'm probably kind of biased, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take me seriously when I say that this book is great and you should read it ;) It's definitely not perfect (and on an objective scale, the rating would probably be lower), but it was exactly what I wanted at the time, and well, I liked Persis a lot and I want to raid her closet.

The point of this review: Persis is effing awesome.








*when do I ever say "more kissing scenes"? This book is pretty special...

source: library
Author twitter / website / blog

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Author Interview: Swati Avasthi

Hello, lovelies! Today I'm delighted to be taking part in the Chasing Shadows blog tour. I reviewed Chasing Shadows earlier this week, and really enjoyed it-- you can read my review here. I was so excited to read Swati Avasthi's latest novel after adoring her debut, Split.


Swati Avasthi is the author of two novels: Split and Chasing Shadows.


Swati has very kindly answered my questions, and I'm forever shocked and awed that she is gracing my little blog with her lovely presence.

Welcome, Swati!


1. I'm always curious about the writing process behind books. Your first novel, Split, was centred around two brothers, while Chasing Shadows focused on the friendship of two girls. Did you find the shift between these very different narrators difficult to make? 

Well, yes. I find it easier to write characters who are more unlike me than those ones who are like me. And Savitri is a lot like me, in terms of race and personality.  So I struggled quite a bit with her.  Her voice was hard to grasp and, in a way, to make interesting.  

Regarding Holly, I also think it's harder to write girls who are sarcastic.  I kept hearing feedback that the girls sounded "snarky".  When I told this to a colleague, Sheila O'Connor, she said, "Do you think it's because they are girls?"  And I realized she was right.  What would be considered funny from Jace is often deemed uglier from girls. It's a fascinating phenomena really that, I think, demonstrates some of the deep and subtle gender bias in our country today.

I use sarcasm as the base of my humor and so that's what I tend to turn to.  It made Jace's voice easier.

That said, I think I'm using a female protagonist for the third novel and letting the sarcasm fly.  It can be done; it should be done. We need to hear voices equally.



2. I can't wait to meet this protagonist in your next book. When writing Chasing Shadows, did you write Holly and Savitri's POVs simultaneously (well, chronologically, if that makes sense), or did you mostly write from one character’s point of view, then "filled in the blanks" with the other character?

I wrote the PoV's concurrently and wrote the book linearly.  I struggle with organization; I don't need any additional challenges :-).



3. I loved your guest post on RandomBuzzers about Diversity in YA (click here to read it! Highly recommend.) and what you wrote about friendships. I felt that you really portrayed Savitri and Holly's friendship authentically by including Indian culture but not having it scream, "look at me, an interracial friendship!!!" Savitri's name comes from a particular story in The Mahabharata, and her character is known as a loyal, perfect wife. What was it about Savitri (from the story) that inspired Savitri from Chasing Shadows

Thank you. They were so fun to write. Well, as I alluded to, my experience of interracial friendships is a pretty subtle one — something that doesn't really come to the forefront of all my relationships.  So I wanted that to be true for Savitri, too.  It isn't a book that is All About Race, for sure.  It has that element though, for those for whom it is relatable. In other words, the story doesn't hinge on it, but adds what feels to me to be an authentic layer to it.

I was interested in using the graphic novel format, but all I'd ever read were Indian comics and so when I knew it was the form I wanted to work with, the story of Savitri felt comfortable for me, almost like a refuge.  

And here I was with this girl whose loyalty to her closest friend in the world was being tested by grief.  So Savitri’s no-holds-barred loyalty is her primary link to the original story, as well as her deep connections to those she loves. That said, the story of Savitri in the Mahabharata is one of the reasons I had Corey and Savitri date… to mirror the original story more closely.



4. Savitri's loyalty was my favourite aspect about her! I think everyone is going to ask you this question, but I have to know. Freerunning—I had (embarrassingly) never heard of it until I read your book… where did that idea come from? What first made you want to include it in Chasing Shadows, and did you always intend for it to be such a prominent feature of the book? 

Oh, don't be embarrassed.  A lot of people don't know about it.  It isn't as big in the US as it is in the rest of the world (probably in part because of our architecture which is more spread out).  Honestly, the idea came from my husband.  He knew the story I was working with and he showed me a segment of Top Gear which had freerunners in it. (The footage is shot beautifully, http://youtu.be/uNBPQe4dFxk).  He said he could see Holly doing this because it would make her feel like a superhero.  

I was a little unsure at first because I didn't know how to do the research.  Later that week, I was dropping my daughter off at her gymnastics class and there on the board, with sparkles and pictures, was an advertisement for freerunning classes.  Sometimes, you get lucky.

As soon as I had that piece, a lot of things fell into place about who these girls were, the kinds of risk they would take, and how they were connected to their bodies the way that all athletes are. 


that is too cool!


5. The graphic novel aspects were so entrancing and I personally loved the way it felt like a "book within a book," as opposed to art accompanying text. How early on in the writing process did you know that you wanted illustrations in Chasing Shadows? If you didn't have the graphic portions, do you think the novel would have unfolded differently? (For example, would you have written the Shadowlands scenes into the book?)  

Thanks! A lot of the credit of that goes to Craig Phillips of course, whose art captures the viewer. 

I knew pretty early that I wanted graphics, because I wanted to explore the idea of how words can evaporate in times of extreme crisis, how we can't utter a sound when our lives have been flipped upside down in a second.

But I wasn't quite sure how to incorporate the graphics. Originally I thought I'd structure it more like Gene Yang does in American Born Chinese, kind of the way he does the Monkey King story.  In this case, I'd use the story of Savitri, the story of the Leopardess: origins, and then the story of Chasing Shadows in graphics as their own sections in the story.  But my super-smart editor weighed in and she seemed hesitant with this structure.  And I trust her; she really understands story so if she couldn't see it, then I'm not sure it would have worked.

Without the graphics I would have lost a lot of the slippage that I was able to show by intersplicing the graphic narrative within the text, and would have lost the intimacy the reader gets with Holly's perspective.  If I didn’t have the graphics, I probably would have still told the same story, but still switched forms – perhaps to poetry or changed points of view. It would not have been nearly so fun.



source
6. I'm definitely going to have to read American Born Chinese, that concept sounds fascinating. Lastly, The Leopardess is a strong, kick-ass female comic book character that Holly loves and tries to emanate. My question is: who are some of your favourite kick-ass female characters? (Either in comics, books, or even movies!)

I am really exited by wicked-cool characters in the TV series Avatar: The Last Air Bender. I am particularly fond of Suki, Katara and Azula.   In the follow up series, The Legend of Korra, also I am loving Asami Sato and Lin Beifong.  And one of my all time favorites is Kim Possible – smart, funny, flawed, and you know “no big.”

Everyone has been telling me to watch that TV series, I swear I will, one day! Thank you so much for the interview, Swati, and congratulations on the release of your book!

***


Links:
Author website
Chasing Shadows on Goodreads / amazon.com / amazon.ca / Indigo.ca / book depository / barnes & noble 


Chasing Shadows 
Savitri, Corey, and Holly are fearless freerunners. They vault over walls, flip from parapets, and leap from building to building. Invincible. Until a killing fractures their world. Told in images and prose, Chasing Shadows is about what happens when language fails – when words can’t contain grief, can’t bridge to a splintering girl, and when they can’t bring back the dead.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

BR: Perfect Ruin

by Lauren DeStefano
The Internment Chronicles; book I
internment 
noun
the internment of enemy aliens during the First World War: detention, confinement, custody, captivity, imprisonment, incarceration.

I googled it so you didn't have to. 

Summary (goodreads)

On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan's older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.

**

My Thoughts

Perfect Ruin is ambitious and imaginative, but personally, for me, it fell short of my expectations. I'm not sure if it's falling short my standards for Lauren DeStefano's work, the hype surrounding the series, or my personal hopes, but I was disappointed, despite some things I genuinely enjoyed.

Morgan, the main character, is instantly engaging. DeStefano really brought her voice and character to life, and in turn, brought the world of Internment to life (well, more like life, 8/10). I adored her relationship with Lex and Pen, and I found Alice's character wonderful as well. I was so much less enthused about Basil-- he's bland, forgettable, and solely there to be a "perfect love interest who pretty much does not exist if not for loving the protagonist". I mean, you know when we all get frustrated that female characters in movies have no reason to be there apart from being eye candy/love interest? That's Basil with sexes reversed, and that made him annoying. He's boringly (yes, boringly) devoted to Morgan. 

DeStefano really excels at character relationships, but I felt that she only really captured my interest with two of them: the sibling relationship with Lex, and the friendship with Pen. I liked the unpredictable Pen that I couldn't really get a handle on, but I'll admit, I was waiting around for some big twist surrounding her character... just something more.

For me, where this novel went 'wrong' was well.. the plot. Or moreso, the pacing. 200 pages in, I was still waiting for something more interesting (okay, well, more interesting than a murder) to happen. Actually, not even plot-point wise, I was just hoping to feel some sort of urgency, some sign that I was fully invested in these characters' futures, but that only marginally happened. Towards the end, the pacing picked up but I felt like I already slugged through too many pages. I'll give props to the author in that things happen in her book-- big plot ideas actually occur, instead of you waiting around an entire trilogy for the "big thing" to happen. I didn't really see the ending coming (yay!); the flow into this big event was exciting, however the big event itself felt clunky. 

The world-building of Internment was interesting as well; there were no glaring flaws, but I'll admit it wasn't even close to being the best I've seen in terms of an engrossing non-earth setting. 

Where DeStefano shines is with her subtle yet gorgeous writing that really makes Morgan's voice believable, the dialogue great, and the book readable (readable as in, it moves smoothly). The plot and pacing didn't really do it for me as the shifts between events never felt "on point". Some characters fell very flat for me, but I can only hope they have their time in the spotlight in the upcoming books. While off to a shaky start, I still think The Internment Chronicles is ambitious and has plenty of potential to knock readers off their feet. 

Rating in HP Terms: Acceptable
Recommended for: fans of dystopian "government is too controlling" books, fans of Lauren DeStefano
Acknowledgements: none in ARC :(

7/10 - because it was not quite there, in a sense. I expected a lot more from it but I felt that even DeStefano's lovely prose wasn't enough to get me fully invested in the characters (basically, I liked the characters, but I didn't really care for them) and in turn the plot felt clunky as the characters moved through it. The world-building, while it wasn't shoddy, wasn't really spectacular either, but I'm curious to see where this series goes.








source: publisher
author website / twitter / tumblr / instagram (where her cat to non-cat content is a delightful 25:1) 

Friday, September 27, 2013

BR: Chasing Shadows

By Swati Avasthi; illustrated by Craig Philips

Does anyone remember my love for Swati Avasthi’s first book, Split? It’s one of the few books that I have an immense urge to reread every few months. It was absolutely incredible, and I’ve been patiently (eagerly) waiting for her sophomore book since. 

Summary (goodreads)

Before: Corey, Holly, and Savitri are one unit—fast, strong, inseparable. Together they turn Chicago concrete and asphalt into a freerunner’s jungle gym, ricocheting off walls, scaling buildings, leaping from rooftops to rooftop.

But acting like a superhero doesn’t make you bulletproof…

After: Holly and Savitri are coming unglued. Holly says she’s chasing Corey’s killer, chasing revenge. Savitri fears Holly’s just running wild—and leaving her behind. Friends should stand by each other in times of crisis. But can you hold on too tight? Too long?

In this intense novel, Swati Avasthi creates a gripping portrait of two girls teetering on the edge of grief and insanity. Two girls who will find out just how many ways there are to lose a friend…and how many ways to be lost.

**
My Thoughts

Chasing Shadows a tricky book to review without giving away major plot points. That said, it is these unexpected plot points that really make the book come together and shine, thus this review is going to be annoyingly vague as I hint at things without really telling you anything. 

At the core of this book is the friendship between two girls, Savitri and Holly. Holly’s twin brother Corey (and Savitri’s boyfriend) is murdered and Holly spirals into a dangerous web of grief, taking Savitri along for the ride. There’s something intensely personal about the many manifestations of grief explored in this book, and Avasthi (and the illustrator, Craig Philips) deftly explores these different aspects through both prose and imagery. 

This resonating friendship is one of those inch-wide, mile-deep types of things, where every dark, reckless, frayed emotion bubbles up to the surface for the reader to see; the dual narration really captures each girl’s mindset and motivations without ever feeling trite. As Savitri tries desperately to save Holly and hang on to the friendship they shared, Holly is driven deeper in to the darkness, confounded by reality and her nightmares. 

I liked the groove of the book, I don’t know if that was because my head was spinning from all the freerunning (super cool), but I thought the writing had a certain sense of style. Short, clipped sentences are used to describe both emotion and action, and little details, such as the time-stamp for Savitri’s chapters added the extra oomph. Also, I loved that Savitri was Indian, and that Indian mythology was weaved in to the plot, YA Diversity ftw! There is almost a fantastical element to Holly’s chapters, and I thought that the illustrations were immensely helpful for gaining insight into her mind.

The plot with finding the murderer moved along well, but I didn’t find that story arc particularly powerful. I thought that it gets the ball rolling for exploring, testing, and straining the relationship between Holly and Savitri, but before long, I cared more about the characters than the “whodunnit”. The aftermath of the "whodunnit" part, though, was fantastic. There are a few side characters I wish were fleshed out more, as well as some plot points I felt were glossed over.

Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: people who don't know what freerunning is (that means you, hehe)
Acknowledgements: Fabulous! 4.5/5

8.4/10 – because I really think Chasing Shadows is special. As Avasthi carefully moves the plot along, she unravels the characters and their psyches. Going in to this book, I didn't know too much about it so the interesting turns in character development were unexpected, but welcome. The illustrations added a layer of mystique and I particularly admired her portrayal of grief, friendship, and the ties that keep people together. The freerunning aspect was wonderfully introduced and integrated, and undoubtedly unique (and I loved it!). My only reservations are that the murder arc didn’t exactly hit home for me and a few unpolished secondary characters, but that said, this book is much more than that and what it does well, it does really damn well.









source: publisher
author website / twitter

Also, stay tuned because next week I have the wonderful honour of interviewing the author! :)


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

GIVEAWAY: What Goes Around by Courtney Summers (closed)

If you know me well, or have followed this blog, or have clicked on my About Me page, you might know that I'm a huge fan of Courtney Summers. Huge!

I have what I call my "Holy Trinity of YA Authors", and for a while, it was called the "Holy Trinity of YA Authors + Courtney Summers" (two more authors have since joined the ranks), and since I love spreading love for these authors, they are: Melina Marchetta, Sarah Dessen, John Green, Courtney Summers, Markus Zusak, Patrick Ness, and Cath Crowley.

But I digress. What I really meant to say is that I really, really, really like Courtney Summers. Each one of her books are better than the last, and 75% of her books have gotten 5/5 stars from me on Goodreads (take into consideration that I have only rated one book 5/5 this year). Plus she's really funny on Twitter and really thoughtful and awesome on Tumblr (and she likes Melina Marchetta!). Plus she's a Canadian. And she likes Supernatural*. I sound like an infomercial because every time I write something positive, I just have to go 'but wait, there's MORE'.

So that's why I'm thrilled today to be able to give away a copy of What Goes Around, which is a bind-up of her first two books: Cracked Up To Be and Some Girls Are. Thank you so St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to host this giveaway!

You can read the first three chapters of both Cracked Up to Be and Some Girls Are here, if you want a taste of Courtney Summers' genius (trust me though, you'll want more than a taste).

In addition, you can follow Courtney in all her online glory by stalking her Facebook page (plenty of links to other giveaways!) Twitter, Tumblr, and website. She talks a lot about video games and zombies, y'all.


WHAT GOES AROUND
by Courtney Summers
released September 3rd

Two girls. Two secrets. Two gritty, critically acclaimed novels in one. 
For Parker, perfection is all that matters. No one will know how wrong she is inside if everything she does ends up right. But when the pressure proves too much, she makes a devastating mistake she’ll do anything to keep hidden—even if it means becoming a perfect mess. For Regina, popularity comes with a price. When she’s kicked out of her clique, she finds out what it’s like to be those she’s bullied and destroyed. Everyone says she has it coming . . . but is there something they don’t know? 
There is more to these two girls than meets the eye.


To Enter: 
-fill out the form below (Yes, a form. Yes, I'm a dinosaur.)
-Open to US/Canada only
-ends Saturday September 7 at 11:59pm
-if you post about this giveaway somewhere on the internet, you get an extra entry!
-if you follow Courtney Summers on twitter, you get an extra entry!
-if you follow me on twitter, Oprah gets an extra entry!


--

This contest is CLOSED. The winner is Cialina-- I will email you for your address later today! Congrats! :)

--


In addition, Ciara from Lost at Midnight Reviews is hosting a Courtney Summers read-along, which you guys should definitely check out. Go go go! What are you waiting for?!


TL;DR- read Courtney Summers' books because they will mess with your head and your heart and she is so wonderfully talented. What Goes Around is a bind-up of her first two (critically acclaimed) novels and it is released September 3rd!!









*this is one of my absolute favourite Supernatural-related tweets from Ms. Summers herself


Thursday, August 1, 2013

BR: The Spectacular Now

by Tim Tharp

This book is being turned into a movie, and I watched the trailer a month or so ago and thought "I need to watch this so bad." But I thought it'd be nice to read the book first.

I'm not the biggest fan of movie
tie-in covers either. 
Summary (goodreads):

SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

 Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper.

But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

**

My Thoughts

There's something endearing and beautiful about a boy who wants to save someone yet desperately needs his own saviour.

There's something thoughtful and realistic about writing about imperfect people trying to do their best in life and life nonchalantly swatting them back.

There's something sad about books that portray lives as less than ideal we hope for and trick ourselves into believing.

There's something that makes me smile and tugs at my heart when characters are flawed and real and drink too much, who crave people and love and passion, who think about futures and think about nows, and there's something so deeply wonderful about books that can assure you that life isn't a fairy tale but there are individuals in life who make it worth living. 

I loved the ending. I loved the writing, Sutter's narration (his character will be a hit-or-miss for readers), and Aimee's portrayal. The dialogue is sharp and Tharp really excelled in showing not telling, especially when it came to Sutter Keely. Readers are able to end up forming a clearer picture of Sutter than even he can fathom, and I think that is the heart of the story and that is the reason why this book was so moving. We see the insecure, lonely boy that he cannot bear to face.  

I'll just leave you with a few quotes. 


"...Let me repeat, she is not a girl I'm interested in having sex with. Not now or any time in the future. I will not have sex with her in a car. I will not have sex with her in a bar. I will not have sex with her in a tree. I will not have sex with her in a lavator-ee. I will not have sex with her in a chair. I will not have sex with her anywhere." 
"Oh right, I forgot. You're out to save her soul. Give me a hallelujah for Brother Sutter and his messianic complex."
"My what?"
"Messianic complex. That means you think you have to go around trying to save everybody."
"Not everybody. Just this one girl."


-

"Yeah," she says. I'm beginning to see that her "yeahs" are almost always two syllables, one for "yes" and the other for "but I don't know if anything will ever come out of it."


-


"...But I don't want just Thursday afternoons either. I don't want just moments. I want a whole life."

-

Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: people who enjoy movies like (500) Days of Summer
Acknowledgements: 3/5

8.7/10 - because it speaks about quiet truths and complex characters. I adored the character dynamics and the dialogue. I can't really think of a drawback, only that I'm not head-over-heels in love with this book. However, it definitely struck a chord with me and I'm looking forward to this movie now more than ever. Give this book a shot. I can't stop thinking about it.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

BR: The Name of the Wind (& a story)

The story first:

This book is really, really good, guys. I might give it a high 4.5/5 on Goodreads, but since it's a 600 page beast, the feeling of giving it the full 5 stars because it makes it feel as if the time was even more worthwhile.

I don't read a lot of fantasy. I have a few staple fantasy YA books I love to death, but I don't read the proper tomes in the sci-fi/fantasy section of my library. I have an interesting story about Patrick Rothfuss- last year, I was bored and sifting through my local bookstore website and I came across a store event that he would be at (the very next day). This name sounded vaguely familiar and thus a google search led me to his goodreads page, where his books have had 1) and obscene amount of ratings and 2) an almost unheard-of universal likability rating. This was definitely a good sign. I then realized where I'd heard of him before-- a fellow blogger, Steph Su, had raved about his books on her blog. I'd actually went and purchased the kindle edition, but I then realized that the kindle was still in my mum's possession. Anyway, digressing a lot.

I asked around on twitter whether I should drop by his signing (and had a very enthusiastic YES) so I went, and there was a moderate amount of people. I bought both his books in this beautiful large-paperback form (not trade, not hardcover), which was surprising to myself because I rarely buy books at cover price, even for signings (damn you, broke college student stereotype!). I sat down (I had gotten there about an hour early) and waited, hoping I wasn't making a mistake and wasting my time.

I wasn't.

His signing started out with some jokes, then he mentioned how he could either 1) be very politically correct and happy and whatnot and we, the audience, can record his talk, etc, or 2) we can all put away our cameras and phones and he can perhaps be slightly less PG. We cheered and voted for the latter, and off he went. He talked about the novels, the characters (I had absolutely no clue what was going on, haha) he read a short story, answered questions, proved himself very funny, modest, and self deprecating, etc. All in all, it was really funny and enjoyable, but when the signing itself actually began, I was shocked.

Considering the amount of people who showed up (at least 100, I would say), I think I was in the 30's in terms of place in line, but it still took him about an hour to get to me. Why? He talked--conversed--with every single fan. He posed for pictures. He suggested intimidating, goofy, silly poses. He laughed. He graciously thanked them for showing up and buying his books and supporting his charity. He caressed a hardcover first edition of The Name of the Wind that a fan had shown up with. I was very impressed, to say the least.

I was realizing that I didn't have anything to say about his books since I haven't read them (oops) so instead, I commented about how his blurb on Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff made me read the book (a generous fib, but partially true because I was, at the time, reading Stormdancer at the time and had noticed his blurb!) and thanked him for a wonderful, laughter-filled event, posed for a picture, and moved on. He has an incredible beard.

follow me on Instagram!

Anyway, my plan was always to read the books ASAP because I wanted to send him an email-- hey remember me? The girl from your Toronto signing who, instead of talking about Kvothe, talked about another author's book. But nope, the books were intimidating and I put off reading it for like, a year.

And then this summer, I decided that I am finally going to read it. Determinedly, I sat down.... and read 15 pages. Hey, it was confusing, in 3rd person, included demon spiders and some random guy named Kote talking about silence. I was confused and I had another book I was itching to read.... so I read the other stuff.

A few weeks ago, I decided "okay, Audrey, stop being  wuss and power through this book. What's the fuss all about?" and so I did and daaaaaaaamn. It was so good.



The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Kingkiller Chronicles; book I

Summary (goodreads):

Told in Kvothe's own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature.


My Thoughts

Whew, that took a while to get to the actual review, right? I'm quite out of practice with reviews, so this feels like another one of those times where I desperately want to do a book justice but I know I won't.

The Name of the Wind is utterly compelling. It's ridiculously well-thought-out to the point where I've spent an obscene amount of time thinking about the currency used throughout the book (true story). The story is told in flashback format, where our red-haired protagonist recalls his childhood growing up in a traveling troupe and then going to the University, his run-ins with evil forces, magic, friendship, The Woman, and well, so much more.

Despite a slightly rough beginning (those first 15 pages where I just wasn't feeling it at all), Rothfuss really gets into the groove of things as the narration quickly slipped into a seamless rhythm and completely sucked me in. I know there's an ongoing complaint about Kvothe's characterization, but hell, I'll forgive it because he's got some badass charisma to back him up and I'll happily give a him a pass this time around. I loved how the story began with his childhood so readers see him grow up and get through the tougher times. Honestly though, Kvothe is just a charming, entrancing character I couldn't help but love and want to see through til the very end, and those type of heroes always win my heart.

Where I feel Rothfuss really excels in is the depth of his world; there's so many small details that could easily be overlooked but Rothfuss includes them to enrich the reading experience, whether it is mentioning food, money, clothes, or random artifacts. I'm kind of naive about the fantasy genre so I'm not exactly sure if his ideas are super-original or what, but I thought the sympathy (magic) aspect to be particularly intriguing. Kvothe also deviously hints at the greater adventures to be had, which served as playful encouragement to keep reading (not that I needed any).

Lastly, the writing is brilliant. The narration would not nearly be as irresistible without words woven together is perfect harmony, poetic in a sense. It seems like I particularly like two types of writing: the engaging, funny, smooth types and the other type: gourmet literature ;) It's been a while since I've used that phrase.

The Waystone was his, just as the third silence was his. This was appropriate, as it was the greatest silence of the three, wrapping the others inside itself. It was deep and wide as autumn's ending. It was heavy as a great river-smooth stone. It was the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die.

Rating in HP Terms: Outstanding!
Recommended for: if your're up for a 650 page fantasy novel, I will shove this in your face. If your not, I will still shove this in your face.
Acknowledgements: 4.5/5, loved :)

9.2/10 - because it's been a while since I've rated a book 5/5 on Goodreads. The Name of the Wind is an enthralling novel that I wished wouldn't end. I'm reading the sequel right now and I'm scared to join the legion of fans salivating for book 3. This book is really, really, really good. I don't really know how to describe it, but it feels like it's this dense, delectable chocolate cake with the perfect icing that's not too sweet and not too runny. I think you should read it.








source: bought
author website / blog