Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

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51udok1rjtl-_sx322_bo1204203200_Shy and a little strange, 14-year-old June Elbus feels like she can only be herself around her uncle and best friend, Finn Weiss. When Finn is diagnosed with AIDS and dies, June is left feeling alone. But then she meets a strange man who claims to know her uncle. As a secret about her uncle’s life begins to unfold, June realizes she is not the only one who misses Finn and that she may not be as alone as she thinks.

Any time I went to the book section in Target and saw this book, I would pick it up, read the synopsis, and think: This sounds pretty interesting. But then I would put it back on the shelf. I finally decided to buy a copy when someone on Twitter said that it was a great book. And it was on sale on Amazon. So, done deal.

Saying that Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a great book is an understatement, in my opinion. This book had me going through a gamut of emotions: I laughed, I cried, I got angry. Carol Rifka Brunt did her research on how people with HIV/AIDS were treated in the 1980s and that resonated in the book. I felt a connection with June because I was considered the odd kid growing up, so I was able to empathize with how she was feeling. Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a captivating coming of age story that I would recommend to anyone looking for an amazing book to read.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

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41bz6jumwil-_sx323_bo1204203200_When Christopher, a fifteen-year-old boy with an autism spectrum condition, finds the dead body of the neighbor’s dog, Wellington, speared by a garden fork in the middle of the night, he decides to investigate the dog’s death and write down his experiences as a murder mystery novel. Through his investigations, Christopher learns that his mother, who his father had said died of a heart condition several years prior, is actually alive and living with a man she had had an affair with. This, among other confessions, causes Christopher to lose all trust in his father, and he decides to run away and live with his mother.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time was an interesting read because of the writing style. Although a bit repetitive, I thought it worked since Christopher is supposed to different, and maybe that’s how his mind works. It might repeat itself and so he ends up repeating himself in his murder mystery novel because of it. I also enjoyed that the chapters were numbered in prime numbers vs. the traditional numerical order. I thought that went well with the rest of the book because Christopher would count by prime numbers to calm himself down.

There wasn’t much that I didn’t like about this book. I thought it was entertaining, and while the repetitiveness kind of got to me, it didn’t really impact my overall feel for the book. However, it wasn’t a book that caused me to have a “book hangover”. It was a good story that had interesting characters, and it is something that I would recommend to others, but I probably wouldn’t place it as one of my favorites.

 

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

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9780062564344_p0_v3_s550x406In an attempt to win the heart of Victoria Forester, Tristran Thorn promises to bring her back the star he saw streak across the sky and fall into Faerie. However, unbeknownst to Tristran, the fallen star is also being hunted by an ancient witch wishing to be young again as well as several princes all determined to become the next king of Stormhold.

I had watched the movie version of Stardust several years ago and found the book to be just as enjoyable as I remember the movie being. I liked Neil Gaiman’s writing style and found the characters to be captivating. I loved the Yvaine was headstrong and stubborn and not about to just go with anyone who came by, and I feel that Tristran was a bit more full of himself in the book than what I remember in the movie. The book was a bit fast paced, and I found that it read like a long fairy tale than a novel, which I kind of liked.

However, I was slightly disappointed by the pacing because I felt like I wanted more. In one instance Tristran is at the beginning of his journey and then suddenly he’s already found the star. Then the next thing the reader knows they’re almost home. I wish there was more of an opportunity to learn a bit more about the characters and see them develop at a little slower pace.

More Than This by Patrick Ness

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61iu72bptrll-_sx307_bo1204203200_Seth is drowning. Being pummeled by wave after wave, barely having a chance to catch a breath of air. The waves slam him into a rock. Seth feels his skull crack open. And then he wakes up in a place that can only be described as his own personal hell. Where is he really? And what really happened to him?

If you’re looking for a suspenseful and heart wrenching, semi-coming of age novel, this is your book. While I thought the beginning of the More Than This was a bit slow, it turned into a page turner. There were many times throughout the book where my pulse was racing and I found myself holding my breath in anticipation of what was to come. The characters are lifelike and I became invested in them almost immediately. Patrick Ness does a great job at pacing out the story with plenty of twists and turns that left me guessing the entire time. Even at the end, I wasn’t completely sure if any of it was real, but I think that’s the point. It places you exactly where the characters are: confused with no positive or solid answers.

However, I did have two issues with the book. The first was I felt that Ness was a bit repetitive. He had the characters repeating themselves several times throughout the book to the point where I was like, ‘OK, I get it, let’s move on.’ The second issue was I felt that the ending was a bit anti-climatic. When I was close to the end I was prepared to give the book 5 stars on Goodreads, that’s how good it was. But then the end kind of petered out and left me slightly disappointed. Which was tough because I—like the characters—wanted answers, but at the same time I liked that I was in the same boat as the characters with not having solid answers on anything. While it creates more of a connection with the characters, I think a bit more closure at the end would have made the ending better.

Despite the few issues I had with More Than This, I still enjoyed it a lot. This was the second book I have read by Ness (the first being A Monster Calls) and his amazing writing and ability to tell terrific stories makes me want to pick up another one of his books. I’ve actually had my eye on The Rest of Us Just Live Here for a while, so hopefully I can get myself a copy soon!

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

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32075662It’s been six months since Kate Harker arrived in Prosperity, leaving behind Verity and the monsters that live there. But when she runs into a new monster—one that feeds on violence and chaos—she’s forced to return to Verity before it destroys the city and those she still cares about. But in Verity things have changed. North City and South City are warring against one another, and Sloan will stop at nothing to win. August has also changed, and Kate needs to find a way to bring back the monster who once wished to be human.

Our Dark Duet is the sequel and final installment of the Verity series and is just as amazing and beautiful as the first, This Savage Song. I’ve said it before and I will say it always: Victoria Schwab has a beautiful way with words. Her world building and characters are unique bringing on a life of their own. Once I picked up this book, I couldn’t put it down and was not disappointed when I was done. From beginning to end the story was satisfying and tied up the plots that still remained from the first book as well as the newly formed plots.

One thing I especially appreciated with this series is (*spoiler warning*) that the two main characters, Kate and August, did not end up in a relationship. I feel that it’s kind of standard that the two main characters who start off as enemies somehow fall in love with one another. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if it’s done in a way that works well with the rest of the story, I did appreciate that we had a male and female main character who could remain friends.

I highly recommend this series to readers who enjoy Young Adult Fantasy. I promise you will not be disappointed!

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

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jonathan_strange_and_mr_norrell_coverJonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a book that has been recommended to me by several people over the past few years. When I finally got my hands on a copy, I was surprised by its size: 846 pages. Not something I was expecting. But since I am not one to shy away from reading a tome, I chose it for my first large book of the year. While I did find some portions of the story to be a bit slow, I was not disappointed.

The book is broken into three volumes and follows two magicians, Gilbert Norrell and Jonathan Strange, on their quest to bringing magic back to England. What makes the dynamic of these characters so interesting is that they are so different from one another. Mr Norrell prefers to keep to himself and read his books of magic to learn about new spells, while Jonathan Strange wants to try the old ways of magic to learn how to adapt it in new ways. The ironic part is that while Mr Norrell warns against people utilizing the help of fairies because of their trickster ways, he asks for the help of a fairy to get his name known as a well versed magician—and lands himself in big trouble which doesn’t catch up with him until later.

Susanna Clarke’s writing style is fantastic. It reminded me a lot of Jane Austen’s writing style, and I am not the only one to describe the book as a Jane Austen novel but with magic (the cover of the book describes it similarly). The stories of the different characters weave in and out of each other, and sometimes you will be reading about Mr Norrell for a hundred pages before returning to Jonathan Strange, which can be frustrating if you are more interested in one story than another. There were definitely some story lines that I liked a lot better than others, and I would end up reading for hours hoping to get to the next part of a particular character’s story so I could find out what happens.

Even though the book is long and there are a lot of different plots branching off one another, Clarke does an excellent job at connecting them and ending it all nicely without leaving any questions left unanswered. By the end, I was left with a feeling of satisfaction, enjoyment, and happiness that I got the chance to read such a fascinating story.

The Lobster: A Movie Review

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mv5bndq1nde5nzq1nf5bml5banbnxkftztgwnza5otm2nte-_v1_uy1200_cr10806301200_al_Newly divorced, David is arrested and transferred to the Hotel where he has 45 days to find a matching mate. If he fails, he will be turned into an animal of his choice for the chance to find love in the Woods. As David’s days begin to wind down, he turns to desperate measures to secure a partner.

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, The Lobster is a deadpan, black comedy where the actors speak in monotone and reveal no emotion. But in the case of this film, that is not a bad thing. I found the premise of The Lobster to be interesting and thought provoking. This movie takes an every day situation—a break up or the loss of a significant other—and makes the solution to the problem so absurd that you can’t help but laugh at the situation. And the fact that the characters go along with the situation makes it even more absurd.

The comedy in it is dry, so may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I remember when I originally saw a preview for this movie, I thought it was another Wes Anderson film, and found the style to be somewhat similar (although darker than the Wes Anderson films I have previously seen).

My only flag for viewers is to say that there is human and animal abuse in the film which people may find distasteful. Not a lot, but some. And I think it ties in with the absurdity of the movie and allows viewers to find the beauty hidden beneath the darkness of the film.