Monthly Archives: September 2012

Book Review- Jellicoe Road

 

I am making it a life goal to read every single book Melina Marchetta publishes ever, because that’s how much I loved this book.

Jellicoe Road tells two tragic stories; one set in the present and one set in the past. They weave together in such a delightful way that you are emotionally invested in each one, and finally seeing the connection at the end shatters your heart. The present story focuses on Taylor Markham, who was abandoned at a Seven-Eleven on Jellicoe road six years ago. The past story focuses on five friends who attended the same school as Taylor does now; Narnie, Webb, Tate, Fitz, and Jude. 5 friends with a iron friendship only rivaled by the one several years later.

This book is set in the Australian bush (which is really awesome, except the author lives in Sydney so I have to wait extra time to get her new books!) Most of Taylor’s life and the life of her classmates revolves around a war with two other facctions (for lack of a better word) near their school. The Townies and the Cadets, which are pretty self explanatory. But when she’s elected leader of their school, she has to negotiate with the curious Jonah Griggs, a boy from her past and leader of the Cadets. She knows something happened with him, but her mind doesn’t quite let her remember.

This book…. I can’t put it into words, y’all. That’s how astonishing it was. I read this a week ago and I still can’t get the characters and their stories out of my head. Every single little detail means something, and has stuck with me all this time. I can’t get it out of my head.

Keep in mind that this isn’t only a romance. This is two stories, unbelievably interwoven, heartbreaking, beautiful, breathtaking, life-changing. This isn’t a book that you read to escape reality. You read this book to remember how blessed we are to have friends, to have love when we look for it, and to realize that sometimes pain makes the happy moments even sweeter. It’s an adventure. It will make you think it is a fantasy at the beginning, but you have to remember that it is real.

I felt different after reading this book. It might have something to do with the large number of tears that I had shed by the end of it. You know how sometimes, when you cry over a book, you feel awful afterwards? When I cried at the end of this for a couple of minutes, I felt refreshed. Like I had cried out the world’s problems. I was close to tears about 6 times over the course of reading this. It’s not a sad book per se, but sometimes you read something so beautiful and true that your eyes well up a little bit.

The one drawback is that the first 100 pages are ridiculously confusing. If you can get past it, it is so, so, SO worth it. Basically, you need to remember that

A) the italics are the past story, told in the form of a manuscript.

B) It is contemporary, not fantasy. Just keep that in mind.

C) Remember that everyone else is confused too, and that if you stick it out the rest of the book is completely unbelievable. The beginning is great too, just a bit cryptic.

Everyone, please read this. I’m afraid I haven’t conveyed how emotional a review and read this was for me. I cried, I burst into laughter, I melted. Like Kirsten Cashore, the romantic scenes are few but the type that make you believe in humanity, melt, cry, smile, dance, sing, and laugh. I picked it up thinking it was a light MG book, but there is not one person in the world that wouldn’t benefit from this book. It’s the opposite of preachy, full of everything lovely and broken in the world. You can’t lose with this read. I’m getting a copy as soon as possible and it will live on my shelf forever.

Hope your weekend is lovely. I’m afraid my reviews are more sporadic lately because I don’t have much time to read, but I’m doing my best. Head out and enjoy this book in the gorgeous (almost) October weather! {Wordpress is being a butt right now and won’t let me add a link, tags, or the cover photo. I’ll get it up ASAP. Sorry guys!}

Olivia

“Hold my hand because I might disappear.”

8 Comments

Filed under Fiction, Modern Fiction, Romance

I Capture the Castle

Once upon a time, there was a girl.

She was a sporadic reader, usually coming back to the same 10 or so classic books. She loved the familiarity of the words, her old friends. It seemed like all of the new books she tried ended with sadness. Sadness made her not want to read, to go back to the old comforting, predictable books.

One day, the girl’s teacher handed her I Capture the Castle and said “Please read it. I know you’ll love it.”

The girl did so.

She was captured by the candid descriptions of the English countryside. By the shaby castle. By Cassandra, her literary kindred spirit, stole her heart from the first line- “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”

She finally found a happily-ever-after book, but not the fake kind. One that, after much love and writing and hardships, the main character turns out all right. It taught her life that life is moments of extreme happiness and sadness, and that you need both to appreciate the magnitude of it all. That laughter really is the best medicine, besides writing.

The girl wondered where she could find some friends to talk about this book with, the book that started it all. Her teacher was great, but the girl wanted some others too. So she started a blog, and began to read everything in sight.This book made her step out of her comfort zone, and she hadn’t gone back since. She made lots and lots of friends, and felt like she found a purpose.

A few months later, on her second read of this book, the girl thought about writing. She thought about an idea that had been in the back of her head for a while. She decided to take a chance, found a kitchen sink of her own, and started to write.

Several ideas later, the girl is still going. She doubts she’ll ever stop.

****

This was just my little thank you letter to the book that started it all. Highly recommended! 😀

Olivia

P.S. Thanks to my friend Alice and her lovely Girl Series posts that gave me the idea to write this subjectively! ❤

2 Comments

Filed under Classic, Fiction, Modern Fiction, Romance, writing

Book Review- The Perks of Being a Wallflower

“We accept the love we think we deserve, Charlie.”

This book is the sort of book that changes you for having read it. I rarely buy things without reading them first, buy I’m so glad I took the leap of faith with this one. It far exceeded my expectations. I am lost for words on summarizing this one, so thank you, GR. 🙂

This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

I loved this book because I felt, as so many other teens do, that I am not quite so alone after reading it. Charlie is utterly charismatic because he doesn’t realize he is. He often has moments of brutal honesty and wisdom, but not in that TFiOS-esque way of knowing that he’s being wise. His letters are so real, it’s hard to believe.

As much as I loved this book, it’s very controversial. It touches on basically every single taboo topic ever. But to people who complain about this, I say; “Um. Hello? It’s life. This stuff happens. It’s awful, but it’s life.” Charlie isn’t a good role model, but would you say Bella is a good role model? Or even Katniss? (the first basically almost got herself killed 10 times and then became immortal, and the second volunteered to fight to the death. Not that that isn’t honorable and all, but would you really want your kids doing that IRL? Rant over.) Teens love this because it doesn’t shield us from real life. Not every YA book has to have this stuff, but the way it was written gives these things a natural place.

Charlie’s POV is unlike anything I’ve ever read. It ticks me off to read all these rude reviews or this book on GR. “Only teens like this book” “childish” Seriously, people? Anyone who has ever been a teen has identified with this book in some way, especially current teens. He does write in short sentences with that type of harsh, beautiful language I love, but that is because he has mental damage. (I won’t tell you exactly what happened, but if you read it, you won’t expect it, and you probably won’t even understand it when you find out) I’ll be honest, it’s a bit hard to read. Not because of the language, but because it’s so real it’s almost painful. How Chbosky wound up love, pain, trauma, happiness, and depression into one novel so seamlessly, I have no idea.

I also totally love the cover. Some people think it’s hideous, but I think it’s just Charlie.

Do I even need to mention the fact that this book is totally quotable? The quote at the top is my favorite, but below are some awesome others!

“So, this is my life. And I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

“There’s nothing like deep breaths after laughing that hard. Nothing in the world like a sore stomach for all the right reasons.”

While I don’t recommend this to everyone, and certainly not to those under 14, I think everyone should read it at some point just to form an opinion. If you are currently a teen, I pretty much guarentee you’ll love it to death. Thanks to my friend Mark for pursuading me to read this!

Olivia

“And in that moment, I swear we were all infinite.”

6 Comments

Filed under Classic, Fiction, Modern Fiction

Book Review- Origin

I’m happy to say that this book made me think. A lot. More than any book that I’ve read recently. About genetics, morality, true love, science…. I really enjoyed this change of pace!

 Origin is about a girl named Pia. Scientists have engineered her to be perfect; unbreakable skin, ridiculous endurance, a sharp mind. All her life she’s lived in Little Cam- her compound somewhere in the middle of the Amazon-, never leaving. She’s never wanted to leave, until one day she sees a hole in the fence around the compound and can’t resist. She expects to be gone for just a few minutes, but then she meets Eio, and everything changes. All of a sudden, she’s sneaking out every chance she can to be with him. Eio makes her challenge everything she knows about her immortality, and the further she digs into the secrets of Little Cam, the more disturbing her past becomes.  (if you’d like a nice little snippit of the book, here’s the book trailer! It’s the first one I’ve actually liked in a long time!)

What a summary, huh? This book captured me from the very first page. I found Pia to be likable and very relatable. She’s very brainwashed at the beginning (i.e. “What’s San Francisco? Who is Shakespeare?”) but it’s amazing to watch her break out of the cage they’ve built for her. She begins to question things, come into herself. Pia is refreshingly dynamic, a huge contrast to some static characters in popular YA (such as Katniss, even? Don’t go off on me for that- I just didn’t think she changes that much through the series). I also have an affinity for standalone books (probably due in part to the fact that series’ usually end up ripping my heart into pieces, but that’s beside the point) and it pleases me that I could read this and not go crazy waiting for a real ending! There is talk of a companion, which I would happily read, of course.

The world building is complex, and I love that it *isn’t* a future dystopian. It’s so creepily realistic. It shows us the semingly perfect girl, and the terrible things that happened to create her.

I loved the romance. To all the people saying that this book is ‘too chaste’, I think you don’t know teens well, honestly. This book isn’t deliberately preachy or clean, it’s natural. Honestly, if I was running from wack-job scientists and a bunch of other very bad things I can’t tell you for ruining the novel (but there may be flesh eating ants involved) my primary focus would not be kissing Eio. As hot as he is, in the moment that is not important. Protecting him is, but not kissing him. I appreciate the genuinity of the romance, I thought it played out naturally and it couldn’t have been better.

The pacing and action are great. Unlike some books, I was totally surprised at the plot twists. By the end, I was attatched to every single character- the minor ones, Pia, Eio, Albert, even Paolo. Jessica Koury gave them the layers that you can’t find in not-so-good YA.

My only negative thought is that it took me a couple chapters to really get engrossed in the story. But once I did, it didn’t leave my hands until I was finished. The sci-fi elements that I would normally avoid like the plague were surprisingly charming.

Overall, I loved it! I truly think this book will be The-Next-Big-YA-Sensation, and I’m so happy that a book with such potential to be popular conveys a great, non-preachy message among lovely writing. I look forward to many more years of fabulous books from Jessica Khoury. (she’s only 22!)

Happy Reading, all!

Olivia

P.S. To all those who’ve read it, I am really looking forward to seeing some Origin inspired jewelry! Yresa necklace, please! 🙂

P.P.S. Origin is now released! YOU should go buy it!

2 Comments

Filed under ARC, Fiction, Modern Fiction, Romance

And the Winners are…

WOO! I have below the lovely winners of my giveaway!! I have decided that I can afford to send two books. Just as a little more appreciation. ❤

I would keep you in suspense, but I can’t think of anything exciting to use so, I’ll just come right out and say it!!

The winners are…..

Melanie Conklin

and

Silent Pages!

Congrats, ladies! Email me at oliviasopinions @ hotmail (dot) com ASAP to tell me which book you prefer and give me a mailing address! I’ll ship the books out Monday.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Olivia

 

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Book Review- Anna and the French Kiss

Dear Stephanie Perkins,

Thank you, thank you, for giving the world a book that has charmed girls of all ages, including me. I will read it hundreds of times, I can already tell. I love it. You are amazing. *hugs*

 

I don’t even know where to start, really. I was glued to this book after reading just a paragraph. I read it between taking notes for the entire school day, between studying, under the table at dinner… you get my point. I literally couldn’t put it down. The plot is amazing and so realistic! Not to mention hilarious. This book took me away from everything I didn’t want to think about and wrapped me in a story spun of gold, of France, and of true love.

The writing is gorgeous, and totally captured my heart. I’m sort of convinced that Anna is an actual person. (and Etienne too, but if he IS real I’m taking the next plane to HIM, thankyouverymuch) Part of the reason I love her so much is that Anna is my twin. My book twin. We have the exact same shyish-funnyish-smartish-sarcastic-slightly-neurotic-definitely-OCD personality. It’s quite creepy, really. Nah, just kidding. It’s amazing.

Etienne, as I said above, is totally drool worthy. I can’t even… it’s hard to describe. I would call him perfect, because like Anna, he’s not. That’s why I love him! He’s just so broken sometimes. The chemistry and angst (great combo, right?) between Anna and him was amazing.

I even fell in love with the minor characters! That’s quite the feat. There is so much detail, I feel like I know them. Like I know what SOAP looks like, heard Etienne’s accent, seen the Notre Dame and the Seine and everything!!

My favorite part was the ending. *faints* It was so good, so perfectly planned out but I didn’t expect what happened AT ALL.

If you want some negative thoughts on this book, well, sorry. You won’t find it here. I am in love with this book, I will buy ALL Stephanie Perkins’ books, and the fact that I might get to meet her at YALLFest just blows my mind. I feel so lucky.

This book made my month! Recommended to EVERYONE, even the dudes. Despite the cover/title*, this isn’t chick lit.

Olivia

*Note that this book is about a girl named Anna who kisses a boy in France. Not as much about a french kiss. I was confused by this myself.! 🙂 Since I didn’t really summarize the book, here’s the GR page.

4 Comments

Filed under Fiction, Modern Fiction, Romance

TCWT September!

The prompt this month is:

“How much does setting affect your novels and stories? What are some of your favorite ways to portray setting?”

Oh, LOVE this prompt! Setting is great, and very important to me. Sure, I write a lot of YA Contemp, set in average high schools. But I also love writing short stories set in places I’ve never been to. These stories will probably never be read by anyone other than me because, like I said, I’ve never actually been to these places. I haven’t seen most of the US, I’ve never been out of the country. And yet, thanks to books, I’m in love with Prague and Paris and London and New York. Daughter of Smoke and Bone put Prague on my bucket list. Up to date travel guides help me create realistic descriptions of places I’ve never been to.

My favorite ways to portray setting, hmm. I’m not too sure what this means, but I’ll do my best! I love setting with beautiful, harsh words that paint new worlds with broad strokes. I love a world that isn’t fuzzy, but clear and above all real. If a setting involves recalling not only the slow beauty of the Seine, but the trash littered along the gutters as well, I’m quite alright with that. It just makes it more real.

No matter how hard life gets, being a writer allows me to create a place all my own. When I’m busy, I don’t even have to write to do it. I just imagine the words I’d use.

I love writing as much as I love reading, and to be able to create worlds from nothing seems to me an incredible gift that I appreciate every day.

“Lock up your libraries if you like, but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” ~Virginia Woolf

 

Want to follow our blog chain? Here are the participating parties, day by day:

September 5–http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com–Musings From Neville’s Navel

September 6–https://oliviasopinions.wordpress.com–Olivia’s Opinions

September 7–http://miriamjoywrites.wordpress.com–Miriam Joy Writes

September 8–http://kirstenwrites.wordpress.com–Kirsten Writes!

September 9–http://writingbeyondthemoon.blogspot.com–Beyond the Moon

September 10–http://crazyredpen.blogspot.com–Crazy Red Pen

September 11–http://ebonquill.wordpress.com–The Ebony Quill

September 12–http://realityisimaginary.blogspot.com–Reality Is Imaginary

September 13–http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com–This Page Intentionally Left Blank

September 14–http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com–The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

September 15–http://allegradavis.wordpress.com–All I Need Is A Keyboard

September 16–http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com–Teens Can Write, Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain.)

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