I loved all the contrasts made between Strangers and Friends. Of Best friends and Maybe friends. Then the choices on who they were versus those on what they could be. Then options against perception. On belief in self versus contentment in the same. One of them in her comfort zone and then later the same exploring other ones. So, there’s what makes them “them” versus the paths that lead elsewhere. So, Changes (changes. CHANGES!) on one hand, and then Grief (Grief. GRIEF!) on the other. But mostly, it’s them being not-so great then wait a beat and it’s them being just that; it’s the ordinary feel they all bring to each their stories that I loved.
So, flashback to what I loved in SIX IMPOSSIBLE THINGS: a lot about Dan and Jane and definitely a little bit because Fred and then forward to WILDLIFE- less the sweet and happy in the possibilities from the first, and more with the real and the really SAD. In other word: emotion.
Enter, LOU and Syb.
Lou is the object of much affection from me. Her moving her way through all the things she’s feeling and SIMULTANEOUSLY being the observer sets her apart. It’s the last that allows for two things to happen: we know her but we also see what she sees. And it’s In knowing her that we feel for her (and frankly, already five percent, I was already teary over all the things she was saying and more importantly- not saying.)
With each moment of her feeling what she was, it’s made clear things are not easy for her (for any of them really.). There’s no easy fix for her because the good doesn’t come in a snap. It’s in working through that, that we get to KNOW her. On the other hand, there’s Lou as observer: we see what she does. It’s in this that a more complete picture of how the others could be is made. There’s a stripped down and more accurate version of Syb offered up as a consequence. She’s less the good girl going with the flow, because flaws are made obvious in this one; flaws not limited to the Mean Girls present in this one either.
And Speak of flaws: we have Syb. I love that she’s different: aware of who she was and how she could be “better” but not bothering to move toward the same because knowing who she was that there’s this lack of drama from her (for the most part.) Or more apt: there’s drama but not much of her being dragged down by the same. I just love that. In the face of all things going on- she could be regular kid, not needing to be the best thing or the greatest thing; happy to have things unfold as they were. Yet, it’s in not-acting , this always reactive stance she has that makes her even more real for me.
It’s a love story. It’s a love between me and this book, rather than one between any one of the characters. Because I loved this. And I loved them.
Oh, Lish McBride, you make me happy. Like in Necromancer, you've come up with yet another motley crew of the definitely snarky, sometimes cute, and often funny that find themselves embroiled in some dark, dangerous, supernatural goings-on.
That they are all such nice guys is just a bonus- nice because where one pays special attention to potential collateral damage, another is a hodge podge mix of leather jacket clad nature boy... slightly eco-footprint without being preachy about it, and the other? The other is sly and hot and aware and UNAPOLOGETIC about none of those things. Thus, it's a toss up to determine just who I enjoyed most- Ezra, for his cocky asshole ways, or Lock for all those smooth moments balanced out by the not-so smooth ones, or Ava- all resigned over the way things are but plodding on and being snarky nonetheless! Or perhaps, them together is what made each of them shine. (Yup, I'm going with the last one.)
But more than the nice they're each capable of, there's the funnier WISE GUY bit they had going for them. They're not the good-guys by typical standards: muscle, assassin, and thief, each crack made by one or the other painted a clear picture of them as a team- one aware of what the other is capable of or what the other's about to do. And funny because of it. There's genuine camaraderie present plus the knowledge of one another that makes for interesting dynamics; because there's them in a sort of comfort zone (mindful of pigeonholes versus possibilities,) but hellbent on not shaking things up. But with the shaking up being inevitable... Gah! all that pressure, all that tension Gah! me thinking back to the Lock and Ava moments has me wanting to reread this... and I just finished it too!
Now that Clique-y group friend thing aside, the dark aspect in this was equally engaging. There's that dark underbelly mafia feel, with more than one crazy present. I liked it even as I am now left with a want to know more. In other words, there's more of Ava and Lock an Ez to come, right?! Right? (Tell me I'm not wishing for the impossible here, people!)
Thank you, NG!
One Kick is my first read from Cain; and if her Heart books are anything close to this, then picture me excited.
The two leads in this are not so stellar: We know everything about Kick- but it is that she's a survivor who'se come up with ways of coping that mark her even more different, more remarkable. Contrast her to Bishop, and the scales are not balanced ever; as there's too much mystery around him, liking or disliking him is impossible. I didn't know anything about him!
That said, what they've tasked themselves to do was exciting then terrifying. (Also, I cried--- for the obvious reason: bad things happening to good people but worse to good animals!) In the end, One Kick is a mixed bag for me. Mostly, I enjoyed the excitement all her in-knowledge permitted: the various secret passage ways and that purposefully hidden culture... I wish more of this was explored even knowing that this was where the ugly lay. Because already, what they'd managed to uncover got terrifying and then ugly. But it's the HOW it's all managed that got a touch too MacGyver; otherwise, this was a good start to a series I am definitely going to continue.
Thank you, Edelweiss!
There are two kinds of scary in this one- there's the second and more obvious bit that combines terrifying visuals of clowns, left-over hand prints, and entities like Thin Man, Frost and other 'Immortals'; but there's the first kind, predicated on being alone and being judged. It's with the latter as starting ground, that we have a girl who's been broken, only to find herself handed an unexpected opportunity--- revenge, (that's apparently best served after the mother of all makeovers at the hands of the Uber Hot man/boy of her dreams.) So, I loved some aspects of this, liked some others, and was meh over one specific thing.
I loved the imagery and how what's terrifyingly familiar has been used in this one. Lot's of the scares here feel like they'd been culled from my nightmares- that a Pennywise-like figure makes an appearance; that thing with a glass surface with the disappearing hand prints; those scary out of place (time) looking folk- who, for some reason, had me thinking of fields of corn *shudder*. And believe you me, there's more.
Less enamored was I, with the push-pull-push going on between the two leads; don't get me wrong, I love the fact that she doubted and questioned the attraction, but there's that issue of things being 'inevitabale,' as in "Obviously, we know how this is going to turn out."
Thankfully, other aspects made up for it: the Game, in particular. While it's not completely laid out in terms of the what, who, how or why; the bits that have been revealed make it clear- this is more than gussied up smart girl getting her revenge; There's so much possibility here.
thank you, eb!
Interesting. How roles have shifted and personalities changed. The girl has not completely shaken off the tendency to want what she doesn't have. In book one, she was stuck in Citizen Cane, unsure how to keep things going; but in book two, we're still allowed glimpses of that; but more than her keeping the household going- here, it's her wondering over how to keep the new version of herself ( that version that River had awoken) going. So she's still fanciful, but there's more emphasis given to the idea that if anyone was going to see things through, it'd be her.
Yet, the magical here is too easily accepted; in fact, things take place too easily. Hear a mysterious radio program says so and so is happening? Well, guess where we're headed! Stumble upon mentions of fiery red hair sighted? Guess where we're going next! For such a smart lead in the first, here that same attribute felt little exercised--- she was just following a too conveniently laid out trail. (It's the one thing that I found out of place.)
Fortunately, other aspects of the book made up for that. First, that shift previously mentioned- in how she could be. Second, the added bonus given the complication of Neely. It's surprising really... how he picks up where River left off because the ensuing confliction created in her over them--- it was not as annoying a 'love triangle' (if you can call them that) that it could have been. Mainly because there's introspection and actual consideration on her part about not just who they each were, but who they each were for the other. It's that she questioned, wavers, then gets back to it... but at least she questioned.
Thank you, E!
Everything Leads to You starts with this modern noir feel of bestfriends on the trail left behind by a silver screen icon, then shifts into something even more quiet, as the mystery of a letter and its contents, are pushed aside and become more about this new person and the draw she has for Emi. So, a love story... eventually, but not just.
More- it's all of them on the cusp of this new thing: acting-talking-and taking on their more grown up roles, but punctuated with moments of them, being not-quite the adults they picture themselves becoming. They swing back and forth and back from trying to be grown-up TO not-quite managing it. It's this particular aspect of the book that I enjoyed most. Because they all act so adult, sophisticated, and in the know, when really, they're not any of those things... yet.
Emi and Charlotte- reveal an interesting contrast, too. Both 18 and raring to get their adult lives started, but both so young too. It's the second that's most obvious: in their talk of fantasy-reality and the fall of one versus build up of the other. The very concept that not all is evident BUT can be made so, felt so young to me. Them pointing that out at all- felt like such young thing. But, if first there's wonder and possibility and appreciation for both; later there's the other side of them finding what's previously wonderful/fantastic become not just that, the more familiar they become with it.
It's a theme that's repeated here- Emi as a designer and her work in movies; Charlotte and her ability to line things up- both make the more obvious example. Movies as magic versus little tricks and tips and what not. Yet, Emi still holds true despite... despite the learning; she stills sees possibilities. So right there a contrast: she's young but not young; an adult-in-the-making.
Another bit of stripping down is of Ava and Jamal pointing out how Emi's and Charlotte's own reality is part fantasy... especially when contrasted against J's and A's own; as theirs is neither as possibility filled or optimistic as E's and C's.
And later- and last- where Ava is concerned; as seen in the eyes of Emi, there's a movie being made around her (another thing that establishes just how young the MC really is in this one is); because for Emi, she's all these almost childish scenarios of epic love story and a host of other what if's, but it is Ava who's the object of all those what if's. Yet, the moment that ceased and once, more 'stripping down' was done, there's a lot of seeing things for what they were and appreciating things-people- more for the same. This has more than one Fantasy collapse- time and time again; and it's that for all of them that allows the Real-and the better- to come into focus.
They've all cast themselves in some role that they want or think they should have, but once they set those aside, I enjoyed them all more. But there were flaws in this nonetheless- like the too perfect way Emi is- she's just too 'great!' in too many aspects but if objectively seen is not really all that. Her tendency to romanticize things was especially difficult to get over- her and her dream job and what she could/would do; her and her object of admiration/affection/lust/maybe-love had me wondering over her ability to frame things and see things in a certain (unreal?) light. Neither did I appreciate the too simple oppositions: on one side Emi, happy and on the other Ava, not happy at all. It's too easy, the lines made... too simple the differences, pointed out.
Still, I enjoyed this for them and that they're all on the edge of something; with most of them taking on adult roles, but still holding on to a sense of innocence... shedding that last slowly with each fantasy that's collapsed.
thank you, e!
With musings of ''You can find ways to be okay with dying, but you can't fake your way through living.' finding themselves intertwined with 16 year old boy humor, Noggin is a touching mix of the funny (in a cringe-please-don't-do-what-i-think-you're-up- to) and the deep. It's the second that should not have come as a surprise (considering this comes from the same author who brought us 'Where Things Come Back') Yet, set that last aside and there is unexpected depth---emphazised by Travis and the 'he's such a boy' feel he starts his story with. And while he is funny, all the humor (and there's plenty) doesn't quite disguise the truth: there's more here, to him and then them than initially thought.
Dying, dead, and now back, Noggin has Travis as Rip Van Winkle only half a decade in; it's a period that's long enough to have things be different, only not quite for him especially, but not exclusively:
Because there are contrasts made between of what he knew AND what he's learning; between how he was with them VERSUS how they all are without him that kept tugging at me. It's the incongruence of it all for him (then for them) about what he recalls and how things are that allow for that mix of cringeworthy kid-move as seen through people who knew him BUT NOT vice versa, because he is stuck while they've moved on. He wants things a certain way and can't get things-people- to line up; yet in attempting to get things done, we see: that that incongruence between what's-wanted and what-is is not his alone; there too are more than a couple of 'What now's?' for those around him.
Yet the reverse is true and most moving as well- that while he's viewed as this kid who's come back while they have grown- either by growing up, growing apart, and growing 'smarter', there's even a more felt truth in him finally pointing out that he is just a kid despite the year and despite the rest of them having grown up-apart-smarter.
In books, in songs, in stories love is a floating thing.
A falling thing. A flying thing. A good bye to all your little earthbound worries, as you soar heart-first toward a pink sky and your dangling feet forget to feel the ground.
Only I know, now: it isn’t like that at all.
Love is a sense of place. It’s effortless, no stumbling, no stammering,. It’s your own voice, quite but strong, and the sense that you can open your mouth, speak your mind, and never feel afraid.
A known quantity, a perfect fit.
It’s the thing that holds you tight to earth, fast and solid and sure. You feel it, and feel that it’s right and true, and you know exactly where you are:
Moody and quiet and thoughtful, Inland is not a happy story told; there’s a general sense of longing on all their parts with varying basis. Callie Morgan longs for something as yet unnamed; her father longs for what isn’t anymore- his perfect wife and their happy family. Nessa knows what she cannot have and sees the futility in the same, instead works with what she’s dealt with, makes do and almost (but not quite) flourishes.
The writing is beautifully written, and is told by a girl -whose perspective had me doubting a host of things- who initiates things with her experiences of being alone as well as being lonely; and then weaves with those first more memories of a mother- recollections that are cloaked, like everything else in this the story is cloaked - in the unsure; second, the novelty and uncertainty of her present.
Her mother is a memory and she doubts what she remembers. It’s an uncertainty that extends to almost everything here. The new things she’s allowed and how she’s not quite ready to claim any of it- pointing out how “unreal” all the “normal” was for her. All of it is couched in a sense that there are things that are deserved but there’s also a whole lot more that aren’t. It’s her and a general sense of, “Mine. But why?” And later, “until when?”
Thank you, Penguin FtR!
There's a sequel, right? right?!
Lara Jean confused me- on one hand, there's a sweetness to her that felt genuine; on the other, there were all those other moments of her being clueless, almost too clueless. It's a split that warranted a closer look on my part. And ta da! reading this was sweet then not so sweet and then back again.
She reads young. Sometimes too young. Naïve, at best, then TSTL, at worst, she is Middle Child, who makes it’s clear that she’s no Margo – take charge, but neither is she the baby - sweet and all. Then with one out of the picture, the story partially becomes them coming into new roles and learning a new system; specifically, that Margo’s way isn’t necessarily her own. There’s a lot of insecurity because of this, and it’s in that that the True comes out. Because I could picture it: her muddling through things along with the rest of them.
So, what’s my favorite thing about this book? ROLES. Roles they all take on first because of circumstance then because they've all grown used to it. Margo, Lara Jean and then Kitty- first one is in charge, last one adds the sweetness, and the middle set on observing; it's when all those things change that we witness how they are each capable of more- as well as less.
The okay aspect: obviously, all the boys she'd loved before, and why each moment of her with them clarifies why it is in fact BEFORE and not STILL.
This was a cute read… and made even more sweet with all the family stuff going on for her.
There’s nothing that blows my mind in this one; but neither was there anything that merited a 2 or 1. Overall, it’s an OK read. With a lead in Renna who is kick ass in owning herself and what she’s capable of and using what’s handy to get things done. In fact, it’s that she consistently gets out of whatever mess that’s present without much effort, so often in occurrence that I became less and less interested in her… because for the most part she’s kick ass. End off. Plus the matter of all the romantic interests (plural) who are all too easily swayed by her feminine wiles. On the one hand: Yay! for owning that aspect of yourself; on the other… is that all it would take to distract so and so? So, sharp contrast is made between her and the rest of them: her- kick ass - where the rest of them - a little too simply depicted for me.
Well, now. Catch a Falling Star has surprising depth considering the super star falling for small town girl formula it works around. It’s so much more than that! Mainly, there is an awareness of position on the part of both the main characters. For the girl, there is a kind of level headedness that’s different given the less than positive effect it’s got- the same is holding her back from wondering. And I enjoyed it for that difference, as well as for the unexpectedness in depth.
She is aware of what she wants, what she could have, and what’s expected. Yet, in being thus, she limits herself. It’s the rest who play a part in her becoming more receptive to the idea of “more.” So, sure, we start with a Hollywood type, yet there’s surprising depth despite (and that later because of that) because it is not just about the building up of a “them.” Rather, focus is given to who she is and who she could become.
Then factor in the male lead: he was everything she expected him to be, but surpasses some things too; it’s in those other moments- of him, not as the Star, that made this a touch been there and done that, but it’s the unapologetic manner he’s finally presented pulled my appreciation for this up a notch
Thank you, E!
Happiness wasn’t a mystical place to be reached or won - some bright terrain beyond the boundary of misery, a paradise waiting for them to find it - but something to carry doggedly with you through everything, as humble and ordinary as your gear and supplies. Food, weapons, happiness
They belonged to each other to hold.
Holy mother of words! This was beautiful. More than what Akiva and Karou have gone through, there’s a whole group of supporting characters that contribute to me loving this series even more than I did when I first started it. There are threads of emotion that link one to another then another then another; but better, there are individual stories, too.
Let’s work our way in (oh, and how do I do this without giving anything away?) Book One had it clear: she’s on one side and he, the other. Book Two complicates things further, by delving into what that divide meant for the two of them. (cue: hearts breaking, the book world over.) Book Three allows a peek into the specifics of both their worlds; and what continuing in that way meant. So things change. And behold! Me, loving these books even more.
It’s not like there’s anything new to this set up because strip it down and it’s clear we have read stories like these before – star crossed loves and all that; great best friends, too. But it’s Taylor’s choice of words that render the story of Akiva and Karou, Zuz and Mik, Misbegotten and Beast an experience
I was feeling everything she wanted me to. The conflict and doubt they each experienced had me wanting to sit them down for a talking to; those instances of fun that inevitably came with Zuzana in tow or even those sweet ones between her and Violin Boy, while out of place given all the tense things they’re all faced, brought it home, they all definitely have a part in the story told.
I believed the leads in this one, particularly her changing views on what’s expected and what’s realistic. Weighing the safe route versus ambitious as she was is based on being knocked back time and again and the same having left an effect on her- a sad reality but a true one.
So, yes, I was buying that aspect of the story. Now him and who he was: shifting from not caring to caring too much is another thing completely. Because there’s this whole side kick jock back story that paints him unfavorably; but that they do come into each other’s lives at the point that they do, when his lost his footing and her a direction has them making sense together for me.
It is Katie McGarry novel, so yes, there is Drama. But in this one, there’s a move to go beyond him as rich boy and her as poor girl and yada yada yada (though if you want that kind of read, just look up her older stuff.) Anyway, thank the Gods, in making RED AT NIGHT less about that and more about their (particularly, her) changing views and what’s to be done about the same, I found myself liking this more and more.
I read Still Life with Strings twice because I enjoyed it so much; it may not be as different as her Painted Faces, but something in it worked for me. I enjoyed her and him and how we meet them both in their respective “after’s.”
The big things that have happened to either has them living their life a certain way; that they meet at that time, makes their connection even more (I could say “too” romantic except I really did enjoy this one) because there’s no saving here; they’re both past that, and as said, living in each their what-after’s.
Them looking back has less to do with them being stuck in the past; it’s more of the two marked by it, so clearly neither of them led easy lives; the decisions she’s made on how to live and why is something else altogether as time and again it pressed on what they could become… were becoming. Him, and his history though less felt, was still present. He is, in fact, just as marked (fragile?) as she.
Eventually the connections made and eventually revealed set their story apart even more. Known to one but not the other, how deep and how unexpected their connection is adds to the romance of things.
he Nature of Cruelty is NA’s take on a boy’s pulling a girl’s pigtails because he likes her- except with more drama. Despite that last thing, this was not a bad read; mainly given female lead aware of who she is, what she wants, and more importantly, what she doesn’t want. Contrast all the moments with her to the flashbacks of why the male lead was the way he was- that he allowed things to progress as they did, I still wonder at, but this is less about him and more about her anyway.
It’s interesting: how mostly she’s this strong lead: new to so many things but not cowed by the same; continuing just that way, I can see the attraction he held for her. Now the reverse is still unclear to me. Why him? The guy in this one is a grade-A douche: past and present; no prize, he is; but let’s set that aside and focus on the girl and how his interaction with her has shaped some of what she wants and doesn’t want, needs and doesn’t need. Or the fact that they’ve shaped each other in a way: his behavior toward her has readied for more of the same while she’s opened him to the idea that not all things are negative. Yes, there are all those moments of woman on pedestal for him; yet it’s his contrary nature that has him acting as he does… which was in turns interesting then confusing. Bonus points on how there really only one big eye-roll moment here: MC’s and their speeches always crack me up.
Woah. This was bloodier than expected; though why not when the title calls for Dorothy’s death? It’s a total about face from what we know of Oz and the characters in it. My favorite bit is Dorothy as lush, Tin Man head over heels for her, Cowardly Lion not cowardly but bloodthirsty and what not, and Scarecrow as something else altogether. Good is Wicked and Wicked is Good. Or were they, because if it’s not one person then it’s another insisting no one, least of all themselves, were to be trusted.
The more interesting bit is how there is a separate story here. Strip away all the trappings of what make this a re-imagination, and we have Amy, a girl who living a life so far from perfect; there is no Auntie Em in her life. Down and out and all that’s depressing, yet she’s still spunky. Is she another Dorothy? The parallels are there as she points out- Kansas, tornado and pet of a certain variety, but no… she isn’t. There’s a “real” way to how things are seen from her point of view… all is not good, something she does not blind herself from. But there’s also the more positive aspect: of her doing something about … stuff.
It’s a fun read. Yes, even with the requisite love interest present. I say so because they each have a role to play; as in the love interest is more than the love interest. At times, it’s that same thing that conflicts with what needs doing. Even better, there’s saving done but not by those expected.
This was bloodier than I thought it was going to be; but fun all the same.