Podkayne of MarsAuthor: Robert HeinleinNarrator: Emily Janice CardPublication Date: 10/1/09Publisher: Blackstone Audio[Goodreads | Amazon | Audible]Blurb (GR):
Meet Podkayne Fries, a thoroughly Martian Ms. who thinks that Earth is not really fit for habitation and that humanity evolved on the now-exploded Fifth Planet
Paddy has one goal in life; to be the first female
starship captain.She has her strategy all scoped out, and with her determination, looks and I.Q. she'll get there, never you doubt!
But all work and no play would make Poddy a Dull Girl, so when a chance comes her way to travel to distant Earth to Venus witrh her elderly uncle, Paddy jumps at it, even if it does mean having her loathsome little brother along for the trip. Travel, Adventure, the chance to cuddle up (in a nice way) with real spaceship officers and ruthlessly pump their brains- she'll have it all!
What Poddy doesn't know is that "Unca Tom" is more than her warmly supportive relative: he is also the Ambassador Plenipotentiary from Mars to the Three-Planets Conference (travelling not quite incognito enough) and that certain parties will stop at nothing to gain control of his vote -including kidnapping and doing terrible things to sweetly innocent Poddy Fries....
Review: So this was a bit ridiculous. I listened to all five discs rather quickly, as it started out as a fun space story. Then suddenly I was on disc four and thinking to myself, "Sooo, nothing much has happened yet." This book is about creating a world, setting the stage for what could be a cool story about a future female space pilot and then having the main character talk herself out of her ambitions because childbirth and mothering are the most important aspirations for women in the world and blahbitty blah blah blah. Thanks, Robert A. Heinlein, I definitely needed the reminder of how women should act. In case you're reading this review and wondering what kinds of awesome tidbits the main character shares in her journal, they are statements about hiding your intelligence from men, never letting a man see that you are better at anything than he is, and accepting that you should never have aspirations that will hinder your ability to find a man and reproduce for the good of the universe.
This book hints at so many possible plotlines and they go nowhere. The actual plot/action doesn't even start to occur until at least halfway through, probably further. Heinlein hints at a possible romance; it goes nowhere. He describes a lot of planets and governmental structures; it's all irrelevant. He spends the first half of the book on a space journey; it has very little bearing on the overall plot. The book ends more abruptly than any I've ever read. Honestly, this felt like the first part in a serialized story. (Ha! I just looked it up on Wikipedia
and the book itself started out as a serialized story.)
Emily Janice Card did a good job voicing the teenage protagonist and her 11-year old genius brother. The side characters, including one or two with southern accents, were distinguishable, which isn't always the case in audiobooks. I do enjoy her narrations but unfortunately, I always keep thinking about her father's politics and it takes me away from the story she's reading. I know this isn't the case for everyone but it IS the case for me, even if she doesn't share the same beliefs. (I don't know one way or the other)
Skip this one unless you're a writer who is looking for a world that was created and then just disregarded. There are lots of ideas to be had here! 2/5 stars
The Treasure Map of Boys: Noel, Jackson, Finn, Hutch, Gideon—and me, Ruby Oliver (Ruby Oliver #3)
Author: E. Lockhart
Publication Date: 7/28/09
Publisher: Delacorte Books For Young Readers
Ruby is back at Tate Prep, and it’s her thirty-seventh week in the state of Noboyfriend. Her panic attacks are bad, her love life is even worse, and what’s more:
Noel is writing her notes, Jackson is giving her frogs, Gideon is helping her cook, and Finn is making her brownies. Rumors are flying, and Ruby’s already-sucky reputation is heading downhill.
Not only that, she’s also: running a bake sale, learning the secrets of heavymetal therapy, encountering some seriously smelly feet, defending the rights of pygmy goats, and bodyguarding Noel from unwanted advances.
In this companion novel to The Boyfriend List
and The Boy Book,
Ruby struggles to secure some sort of mental health, to understand what constitutes a real friendship, and to find true love—if such a thing exists.Review:
The fourth book in this series is most definitely my favorite, but it’s this one that really cemented Ruby Oliver into my fictional-soul-sister-for-life hall of fame forever and ever. In book two, Ruby was struggling to be a better friend – to be more considerate and thoughtful – while at the same time stand up for herself and respect her own feelings. But how far should she go in the name of friendship? How much should she sacrifice? It’s easier to see that line with frenemies like Kim and bad-news-boys like Jackson, but what about friends she genuinely cares about and wants to keep? How much of herself should she repress in order to do so?“And why was it that I had to lie to my friend in order to do the right thing by her? In order to be a good person, I had to pretend I didn’t feel the way I felt. Was that what good people did? Denied their feelings and acted fake?”
I think that this is Ruby’s book about taking a stand. It’s about recognizing her real
friends and saying goodbye to bad ones. And for the friends who lie somewhere in between, it’s about vocalizing all of her thoughts and grievances and feelings, and giving them a chance to respond. Maybe it will destroy the friendship, or maybe it will forge even stronger bonds, but either way it’s better than repressing everything. And I absolutely love that Ruby doesn’t ever get everything “right.”
Two of my favorite aspects of this series as a whole are Ruby’s parents. Ruby’s mom is a serial health-craze follower, performance artist, poor listener, and a loud mouth. Ruby’s dad is a specialty gardener, kumbaya-lover, emotional analyzer, and is generally irresponsible. They both make a ton of mistakes, don’t really get Ruby, and argue with each other at almost every turn. AND YET. And yet, they are both caring parents who have a healthy marriage. I love this passage from Ruby:
“ In life, there’s no happily-ever-after-into-the-sunset. There’s a marriage, complete with arguments, bad hair, lost hair, mentally unstable children, weird diets, dogs that fur up the couch, not enough money. Like my parents. That’s their life I just described – but then, there they were, talking on the phone about my dad massaging my mom’s groin area after yoga; cuddling on the couch; holding hands and wearing stupid Great Dane paraphernalia.
That’s all we can really hope for. In fact, I think it’s as close to happily-ever-after as things get.”
The ability of E. Lockhart to write quirky, hilarious, three-dimensional characters who I inevitably fall in love with is amazing!
Perfect Musical Pairing
Cyndi Lauper – I Don’t Want To Be Your Friend
This song is such an anthem! I loved seeing Ruby finally stand up and tell Jackson exactly how she felt. And the showdown at the CHUBS bake sale was hilarious! No more Ms. Passive Nice Girl, Ruby!
The Lost Conspiracy
Author: Frances Hardinge
Publication Date: 9/1/09
Blurb(GR): Two young sisters who live on a beautiful island soon become caught in a deadly web of deceit. Neither girl is exactly what she pretends to be, and when they are drawn into a sinister conspiracy, one discovers that the only thing more dangerous than the secret she hides is the truth she must uncover.Review:
I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like The Lost Conspiracy
. Maybe that’s why this book isn’t very well known: it’s hard to describe, let alone label, package, and sell. This book is just amazing though; it’s like a triple whammy of great writing, fully realized and complex characters, and an amazing story. So seriously, just stop reading this review right now and go get it. Still here? Okay, okay, keep going. But just know that I will be harping on about this book in various and annoying ways until you all break down.
Hathin is the assigned caretaker for her sister, Arilou. This has been her sole, devoted purpose for her entire life. Arilou is thought to be one of the rare “Lost”: a group of people capable of sending their five senses away from their bodies to travel the island. Several hundred years ago, Gullstruck Island was colonized by outsiders, and over the centuries, the customs and traditions of the native people have been taken over or diluted by the pervading culture of the newcomers. The Lace, an extremely close-knit indigenous tribe, is the only remaining population that still remembers the old ways, and the dangerous consequences that will befall those that do not follow them. The rest of the island’s populations view the Lace with suspicion and fear. Their ways are foreign and illogical to the outsiders. There is a dark history that lies between the two groups that keeps the outsiders balanced on a dangerous edge between fear and rage. Arilou is the only Lost to ever be born into the Lace tribe. When a string of tragedies are blamed on the Lace, Hathin finds herself thrown onto the trail of a vast conspiracy. Hathin must escape with Arilou, and find the strength inside herself to lead, despite living in the shadows for her entire life.
The writing is spectacular – she infuses every sentence and paragraph with shadowy, sometimes threatening imagery. This book is darkly atmospheric; even the chapter titles are a bit haunting and they all have hidden meanings. My favorites are “No More Names” and “Death Dance.”
I am so completely impressed by the massive, sweeping scope of the world that she has built in this book. This is one hell of a world! Taking cues from tribal legends and practices from all over the globe (there’s a nice little acknowledgements section at the end), Hardinge creates a living, breathing, sinister place in Gullstruck Island. This is an island where the flora and fauna can unravel your soul, sing you to death, and loosen your senses away. The volcanoes have personalities, and they feud and love and prank. There are mysterious assassins who use cremation dust to give themselves magical powers, and ominous ancient legends that are all based in truth. The Lace are fully alive and meticulously drawn, and they have a hidden strength that no one sees.Our enemies think that Lace make good victims and scapegoats. They are wrong. They think that they can strike at us and we will do nothing but scatter and hide. They are wrong.
There were only a couple of times where I thought, “how will I keep track of it all?” because for the most part she so effortlessly weaves all this world-building into the story. And what a story! There’s a murder mystery, a revenge quest, and the genocide and enslavement of one group by another. Despite this incredibly foreign (to me) setting, the plight of the Lace is a tale as old as time (unfortunately).
Hathin develops and matures to a staggering degree in this book, and it’s very inspiring. I love the idea of her invisibility and seeming unimportance as strengths. I have to admit, the ending took me by surprise. I was expecting something much darker. I think that the fairy tale quality of this story sneaks up on you. It’s hard to see at first, through all the darkness and tragedy, but this is actually a powerful story of one girl coming into her own. Perfect Musical Pairing
Bjork – It’s In Our Hands
I think that Bjork, with her unique, bizarre, atmospheric, beautiful sound, is the perfect complement to this book. I had a hard time deciding which one of my many favorites would relate best . But I was eventually drawn to the lyrics (with me, it’s always the lyrics) of It’s In Our Hands. Look no further
Look no further
I look no
Always to ourselves
It mustn't get
Any better, off
It's in our hands
It always was
It's in our hands
In our hands
Walls of the UniverseAuthor: Paul MelkoPublication Date: 2/3/09Publisher: TorBlurb (GR):
John Rayburn thought all of his problems were the mundane ones of an Ohio farm boy in his last year in high school. Then his doppelgänger appeared, tempted him with a device that let him travel across worlds, and stole his life from him. John soon finds himself caroming through universes, unable to return home—the device is broken. John settles in a new universe to unravel its secrets and fix it.
Meanwhile, his doppelgänger tries to exploit the commercial technology he’s stolen from other Earths: the Rubik’s Cube! John’s attempts to lie low in his new universe backfire when he inadvertently introduces pinball. It becomes a huge success. Both actions draw the notice of other, more dangerous travelers, who are exploiting worlds for ominous purposes. Fast-paced and exciting, this is SF adventure at its best from a rising star. Review:
I picked this book up from the library after it was mentioned in an io9.com
article about great sci-fi stories (and that also mentioned the movie rights to this book had recently been sold). Anyway, this book tells the story of a young man in Ohio who is visited one day by a version of himself from another universe. The story is set along the lines of a many worlds theory about universes wherein there are infinite (rather, not infinite
but who knows how many) universes coexisting at the same time and some people have transfer devices to travel between them. John, the main character, is visited by John Prime and the plot runs at a fast pace from that point.
This novel started out as an award-winning shorter version of itself and, regrettably, I could tell. I was four star enjoying it for most of the ride and then I completely lost interest during the CLIMAX. When the hell does that happen? I felt like the last 30 or so pages of the book were rushed and the Visigoths and Corrundrum were not as well developed as they could've been.
I also thought the one sex scene between John (Farm Boy) and Casey was ridiculous. It was like two sentences long and completely unnecessary to any part of the story or character development. And, frankly, I couldn't see any real reason why the Johns wanted to be with the Caseys so badly anyway. I know this is sci-fi and not romance, but I've read sci-fi that had better relationship development and this book lacked a little in that area.
I'm giving this book 4 stars because it definitely kept me interested. I thought the author did a great job of creating universes that had slight differences and altogether different options. My favorite part was when John Farm Boy was traveling through the universes one at a time. However, I feel that the book is somewhere between a 3 and a 4 for me. 3.5/5 stars
North of BeautifulAuthor: Justina Chen HeadleyPublication Date: 2/1/09Publisher: Little BrownBlurb (GR):
As he continued to stare, I wanted to point to my cheek and remind him, "But you were the one who wanted this, remember? You're the one who asked-and I repeat-'Why not fix your face? '"
It's hard not to notice Terra Cooper. She's tall, blond, and has an enviable body. But with one turn of her cheek, all people notice is her unmistakably "flawed" face. Terra secretly plans to leave her stifling small town in the Northwest and escape to an East Coast college, but gets pushed off-course by her controlling father. When an unexpected collision puts Terra directly in Jacob's path, the handsome but quirky Goth boy immediately challenges her assumptions about herself and her life, and she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path?Written in lively, artful prose, award-winning author Justina Chen Headley has woven together a powerful novel about a fractured family, falling in love, travel, and the meaning of true beauty. Review:
Once upon a time, I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning while sitting under the covers in a darkened air force base hotel, watching a PBS Nova special about the magnetic poles. (hold on while I push up my nerd glasses) The people I was with were all asleep but I was watching it, flabbergasted, and wanting to wake them up--because I never knew, until that moment, that what we know as magnetic north and south have changed several times in the history of Earth. Can you imagine? Obviously it blew my mind. And we're overdue for another change! (Here's the link if you are interested: Your Mind Blown
Anyway, the point of this story is that this book has a map and discovery theme that I found totally refreshing. Though the story is one of self discovery and relationship evaluation, I felt like the author did an amazing job of making the story original and the characters believable and multidimensional. After reading, I can say that this book evoked the same sort of reaction from me that I felt after reading Saving Francesca
--I really enjoyed it and moreso
because it dealt with heavier issues in a realistic way. In this novel, the protagonist is a girl who has a large portwine stain birthmark on her face which resulted in teasing from her peers and low self-esteem. While she does come into herself, and that is the largest focus of the book, the storyline I felt most involved in was that of the family dynamics.
The way Justina Chen Headley
writes family scenes is so real that I actually cried thinking about how heart-wrenching being in that situation would be. Each member of a family has a different impact on your life and Headley's writing made me think about where the pressures in my life are coming from--good and bad--and how the failure of someone in your family can devastate other people nearly as much as the person who failed at something. And, in the same vein, one person's negativity or rudeness can ruin an adventure/day/dinner for the entire family. (Boy, do I ever know what that is about...)
Headley wove so many interesting tidbits into this story that I really can't talk about them all, but here are a few more topics that I found of particular interest:
*Cartographers drew dragons and sea monsters in sections of the oceans on maps to keep people from going to those areas. (who knew?!)
*As adults, I feel we accept a lot more quirks in people. It saddens me to think how many people feel left out in high school.
*Headley mentions a mnemonic device to remember the streets in downtown Seattle! Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest (Jefferson, James, Cherry, Columbia, Marion, Madison, Spring, Seneca, University, Union, Pike, Pine)
*I want to go geocaching.
I definitely recommend it but beware
, the love interest is goth. At first, I didn't get it, but I really came to like him by the end. You will, too. 4/5 stars
Lips Touch: Three Time
Author: Laini Taylor
Publication Date: 10/1/09
Three tales of supernatural love, each pivoting on a kiss that is no mere kiss, but an action with profound consequences for the kissers' souls:
Goblin Fruit: In Victorian times, goblin men had only to offer young girls sumptuous fruits to tempt them to sell their souls. But what does it take to tempt today's savvy girls?
Spicy Little Curses: A demon and the ambassador to Hell tussle over the soul of a beautiful English girl in India. Matters become complicated when she falls in love and decides to test her curse.
Hatchling: Six days before Esme's fourteenth birthday, her left eye turns from brown to blue. She little suspects what the change heralds, but her small safe life begins to unravel at once. What does the beautiful, fanged man want with her, and how is her fate connected to a mysterious race of demons?Review:
I am familiar with YA literature enough to know how horribly, horribly wrong a collection of short stories about kissing can go (see, for example, The Eternal Kiss: 13 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire
and Kisses from Hell
). Let me tell you, "Lips Touch" is not that
kind of book. This book is simply magical.
Laini Taylor grabs your attention with the first lines: There is a certain kind of girl the goblins crave. You could walk across a high school campus and point them out: not her, not her, her. The pert, lovely ones with butterfly tattoos in secret places, sitting on their boyfriends' laps? No, not them. The girls watching the lovely ones sitting on their boyfriends' laps? Yes. Them. The goblins want girls who dream so hard about being pretty their yearning leaves a palpable trail, a scent goblin can follow like sharks on a soft bloom of blood. The girls with hungry eyes who pray each night to wake up as someone else. Urgent, unkissed, wishful girls. Like Kizzy.
How can you possibly resist this gorgeous writing? I know I couldn't.
The book consists of 3 stories, or rather, fairy tales based on Irish, Hindu, and Zoroastrian folklore. Each tale is about a kiss, the kind of kiss that changes lives, turns the world upside down, a kiss that can kill or bring you back to life.
The writing is superb, the descriptions are gorgeous and the mythologies Laini creates are unique and enchanting. There is passion and love and tenderness in these stories. I remember shivering and smiling at the end of each one.
The book is also beautifully illustrated. The fairy tales are preceded by short graphic stories which do not reveal the content on the tales themselves, but serve as sort of pre-stories whose details are revealed in the main tales.
My only complaint about "Lips Touch" is that there isn't more, otherwise the fairy tales are irresistible and delicious as the kisses they are about. This book is definitely one of the best I've read this year so far.5/5 stars
Psych Major Syndrome
Author: Alicia Thompson
Publication Date: 8/11/09
Blurb (GR): Using the skills you've learned so far in Introduction to Psychology, please write a brief self-assessment describing how things are going in your freshman year.
The Patient, Leigh Nolan (that would be me), has just started her first year at Stiles College. She has decided to major in psychology (even though her parents would rather she study Tarot cards, not Rorschach blots).
Patient has always been very good at helping her friends with their problems, but when it comes to solving her own...not so much.
Patient has a tendency to overanalyze things, particularly when the opposite sex is involved. Like why doesn't Andrew, her boyfriend of over a year, ever invite her to spend the night? Or why can't she commit to taking the next step in their relationship? And why does his roommate Nathan dislike her so much? More importantly, why did Nathan have a starring role in a much-more-than-friendly dream?
Aggravating factors include hyper-competitive fellow psych majors, a professor who’s badly in need of her own psychoanalysis, and mentoring a middle-school-aged girl who thinks Patient is, in a word, naive.
Psych Major Syndrome
In the movie So I Married An Axe Murderer
, which is mega-quotable, Mike Myers’ dad (also played by Mike Myers, but with a Scottish accent) says that he believes there is a pentaverate of rich people that run everything in the world. My favorite member of the pentaverate is Colonel Sanders. (“because he puts an addictive chemical in his chicken that makes you crave it fortnightly, smartass!”) Anyway, I’ve started my own collection of people—the hilarious YA authors. Remember that old show called “Celebrity Poker” where we’d just watch a bunch of random celebrities play poker and shoot the shit for an hour? (or at least I did that?) Well, I’d love to watch the hilarious YA authors do their thing in an enclosed space. Who’d be funnier? I really don’t know.
Let’s meet the lineup:
Well, since you are reading my Psych Major Syndrome
review, I bet you know the first player: Alicia Thompson
. Next up is Lish McBride
, who rocked my funny bone in Hold Me Closer Necromancer
. In corner number three, Leila Sales
, who cracked me up twice, first in Past Perfect
(which is actually her sophomore effort coming out in a few months) and then in Mostly Good Girls
. The fourth corner is saved for Megan McCafferty
and the first few Jessica Darling books. (don’t fault her too much for the later ones!) I haven’t read her books in a few years but I think 18-year-old Flann might come after me with a cleaver if I don’t include her since she was my original funny YA love. Oh, you thought we were in a four-cornered room? Well, the joke's on you because I’m also including Louise Rennison
in our pentagonal room. Her Georgia Nicolson series, though I’ve only read a few of them, is pretty hilarious. Some might try to argue that John Green
belongs in here. Shush your mouth because while he is
funny, his books aren’t consistently hilarious—it’s just every once in a while. A special mention must be put in here, though, for the Aussies. Their sense of humor always gets me. I particularly enjoy Lili Wilkinson
’s jokes as well as the queen’s (The double-M, as if you didn’t know) and Laura Buzo
's. If I hadn’t decided before I wrote this paragraph that there would be 5 people, Wilkinson would be a shoo-in. I guess she’ll just have to guest star all the time. I’m only going to talk about Ms. Thompson from here on out but I’m really curious to know who you all think is the funniest YA author out there. Any of these ones? Someone totally different?
In Psych Major Syndrome
, Leigh Nolan is attending a small college in California where they do a lot of hippie things like let you decide how you’ll be graded and invent your own everything. (I’m still bitter about taking Development of Western Civilization every day for two years) She quasi-followed her high school boyfriend, Andrew, there and the relationship is less than ideal. This book follows Leigh for a few months during her freshman year as she tries to adapt to all the personalities that surround her—the uptight studyhard in the psych department, her flighty and fun art major roommate, the sassy junior high girls she is mentoring, her boyfriend, who only seems to care about schoolwork and not her, and last but certainly not least, his roommate who has taken a particular interest in Leigh. (that sentence has too many commas but you’ll get over it) While I wanted to slap Leigh upside the head for staying with Andrew for even one minute after getting to school, I (sadly) know people in relationships just like Leigh and Andrew’s. Gross. The whole plot of this book is rather well-worn territory and just by introducing the cast in one sentence, I bet you can see where it goes... What makes this book so enjoyable is the narrator.
Everything I thought, Leigh thought. Everything I wanted a character to say (with limited exceptions), they said. Leigh is snarky, realistic, and hilarious. She’s definitely flawed but I found her immensely likeable. And Nathan? Swoonfest 2K11. Even though I kind of feel like a pedophile when YA guys are all over the place with no shirts on, at least this one was set at college so it wasn’t the worst of the worst. (He’ll definitely be joining the back of our Cougar Shirt
—forgot about that thread, didn’t you? It WILL be happening, I just don’t know when) It felt like this book was written just for me. I love when psych majors overanalyze everything. I love Tom Waits and TMBG! I love when teenagers drive old cars in a non-hipster way, and I especially love pop culture references. (Hollaback Girl;-)) Oh, and I love reading about people being mortified in public speaking situations.
4.5 stars for the entertainment value and the laughs (and Nathan). Don't go thinking that I'm gushing all over this book and want YOU/EVERYONE to read it. I don't. It's YA contemporary romance with snark. If that's your bag, then I rec it to you. 4/5 stars
If I Stay
Author: Gayle Forman
Publication Date: 1/1/09
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile, Audio-Penguin AudioBlurb (GR):
In a single moment, everything
changes. Seventeenyear- old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she fi nds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...
A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make - and the ultimate choice Mia commands.Review:
Books about death and dying are particularly hard to review. The way we react to them is so deeply personal that I'm skeptical about the actual value of my (or anyone's) review of the work to other readers. When we read, we don't come to the book with a clean slate--we come to it with years of experiences, friendships, and memories that provide us with a vantage point from which to view the story. And if you have an awful tendency toward existentialism, like I do, these books only become more emotional as you evaluate your own life,choices, and relationships along with the protagonist.
I spent two years of my life moving around the US doing service projects, and most of that time I lived in the gulf after Hurricane Katrina. Living in a tent city and gutting houses for months in what basically felt like a post-apocalyptic world was life-changing for me, but the absolute devastation of the area wasn't what did me in, it was the people. Most of the people whose homes we gutted had not returned from evacuation yet. Their homes had been under 10-12 feet of water for two weeks. My point is this: we threw out almost all of their belongings. Barely anything was salvageable--at the most, we found a few pictures or some of their silver or china. I cannot imagine what it was like for those families. Is it better to come back to a nightmare or to come back to an empty, clean slate from which to start again? I still don't know. But I realized, after speaking to so many residents, that most of their stuff didn't matter to them. They had their lives. Their family. Their connections to other people. I know it sounds cliche, but I feel like it is something that a lot of us tend to forget. Even when it feels like all is lost, there is always
something there to hold on to.
Mia, the protagonist of If I Stay
is in the intensive care unit after a horrible car accident. While she is in a comatose state, some part of her (her soul?) is able to see everything that is going on outside of her body. I found it fascinating--so often with an outside watcher, we see a person hovering over their funeral or watching to see what happens afterward. In Mia's case, we were able to follow along with her while she makes her decision to stay or go. I wasn't sure what Mia's choice was going to be, even to the last second, and I appreciated that fact--Gayle Forman
gets it. The relationships between the characters felt so real to me, especially because a lot of my immediately family are doctors and nurses so I've spent a lot of time in hospitals.
I read an article today about the decline of the "book review." The author was discussing the extent to which people used to depend on critical and objective book reviews for suggestions of what to read and how the number of literary critics has severely decreased. (actual literary critics, not just reviewers)It got me thinking about what I actually look for in a book review. What makes me want to read it? Though I definitely enjoy the NYT Book Review, I am much more likely to buy a book that my friends recommend, on Goodreads or in real life. Give me a subjective book review about what a book made you feel
and I am all over it. If you are the same way, you should know: This book made me feel optimistic for the future at a time when I have been feeling completely lost, so for that, it is getting 5 stars. (9/10 on my blog scale)
As an aside, I'd just like to add that this book was fantastic in audio format. Once in awhile, cello music played in the background and it was lovely to hear it considering Mia was an amazing cellist. Also, having a person actually read me the lyrics to Mia's father's song and to hear Adam say his speech to her was beautiful. I'd definitely recommend this book in audio format.5/5 stars
Author: Kirsty Eagar
Publication Date: 6/29/09 (no US date yet)
Publisher: Penguin Books AustraliaBlurb (GR):
Carly has dropped out of uni to spend her days surfing and her nights working as a cook in a Manly café. Surfing is the one thing she loves doing ... and the only thing that helps her stop thinking about what happened two years ago. Then she meets Ryan and Carly has to decide ... Will she let the past bury her? Or can she let go of her anger and shame, and find the courage to be happy?Review:
Somehow Kirsty Eagar
manages to capture the feeling in your gut you get when you are so struck with nature that you stumble over yourself trying to describe it to someone else but even if you can never describe it, you’re happy to have ever seen it. I’ve got a couple of these places in my back pocket* but Carly Lee sees one every single day when she goes down to the beach. I know next to nothing about surfing (I’m pretty sure watching Blue Crush probably deducts knowledge rather than adding any) but I am still fascinated by the lifestyle and I get the feeling that the only people that will ever truly understand the surfing lifestyle are those living it…which I suppose is true about almost any lifestyle. I don’t really have a desire to go surfing but I still loved the feeling Carly got when she assessed the surf conditions, talked about the reflection off of and colors of the water, and rode a wave. She loves it and I could feel it.
We all know that Melina Marchetta is the queen of the rounded-out character. (I hear from my Goodreads
friend Nomes that MM mentioned this was one of her favorite reads of 2009) I was happy with most of the characters in Raw Blue
, from Carly’s salsa dance-crazy Dutch woman in a midlife crisis to her surf buddy Danny who has synesthesia. And of course, Carly and Ryan. Carly starts this book in a state of desperate loneliness—one where an act of kindness is sometimes unbearable and where, as she puts it, her basic needs are met but there is nothing to work towards or, I hesitate to say, live for…except surfing. Something awful happened to Carly on her school break in uni and after that, she wasn’t herself anymore. She dropped out and has been living on the northern shore, working as a cook and surfing every day, but she is almost completely isolated. She develops several relationships in the book but the primary one is with Ryan, another surfer she meets at her usual spot. This book doesn’t tiptoe around sex, the realistic development of relationships, or the effect sexual abuse can have on the victim and I was happy to see that. Carly is 19 and Ryan is 26—their relationship feels more adult and this book definitely fills that awkward void of literature that exists between YA and adult. And Ryan? Swoon.
I think something I truly enjoyed about this one was that it honestly felt Australian. The language, the personalities, the descriptions, just everything. I want this book published in the US but I want NONE of it changed or adapted. I had to look up with bitumen is and so can you. To change anything would rip the Aussie heart out of this book.
A statement of the obvious, I know, but every reader is different. We all creep around on Goodreads
trying to find our book twin—someone with 100% compatibility, someone who likes everything that you like and hates all the same things. (seriously, twin, if you are reading this—I’m looking for you!) Recommending books to people is hard. Anyway, my point is this: This book made me feel like I was reading a Melina Marchetta
book. Sometimes the descriptions were painfully beautiful, the characters were delightfully flawed, and the dialogue was almost always spot-on. If you are still reading this, you probably already know we have similar tastes so I recommend this to YOU. I’ll take the blame if you hate it but I really don’t think you will. I hope you can get your hands on a copy!
I am beyond grateful that the lovely Nic (at Irresistible Reads) shared this book and I will definitely be acquiring a copy soon. Hopefully Penguin USA will get with the program and publish this here. (If you click on the cover photo, as always, it will take you to a place you can purchase a copy)5/5 stars