Wednesday, November 12, 2014

On My Nightstand - Oct + Gecko Press review

Hmm.  There's no way I'm gonna make my goal, but whatevs.  I'm sure the internets will survive, and I know I will.  Anyway, these are my latest reads...

The Volume of Possible Endings (A Tale of Fontania) - Barbara Else

It was fun to slip into some middle grade fiction for a little while.  There are some refreshing differences between MG and YA (and Adult for that matter), my favourite of which was the POV.  Third person, after sooooo many first person narratives!  I know it's a little (and possibly quite geeky) thing to get excited about but yanno.

The Volume of Possible Endings was a fun, fast-paced adventure with some truly quirky characters.  12-year-old Dorrity is courageous and quick-thinking, and must uncover all the secrets from her past in order to rescue Fontania from an evil Count.  There is a real Steam Punk vibe to the story, a quaint setting, and many little adventures, each playing their part in the slow build towards the climax.  There was one aspect of the resolution that I was a little sad about, but as this stand-alone belongs to a bigger series about Fontania, I'm kinda hoping that this thread-line will be picked up in the next (assuming there is a next - I hope so).  I would recommend this to any MG reader, and it would make a fun read-aloud too!  Very magical :-)

Love Letters to the Dead - Ava Dellaira

Laurel writes letters to dead celebs, describing her journey through Freshman Year in high school (friends, boys, parties, ), and gradually unravelling the truth about her sister's possible suicide.

There was a lot that I loved about this novel.  The writing is fresh, and the concept is fun (especially the references to celebs I idolised in my youth :-)).  Some of the phrasing was really beautiful, with some very poignant moments as Laurel worked through her grief.  The pacing worked for me, slower to begin with, gradually picking up momentum as I read.  There were gentle nudges towards the truth throughout, which did mean I figured out the backstory early on, but this didn't make the gradual uncovering of truth any less effective.

Laurel's voice was very young compared to other YA novels I've read recently, and especially considering some of the life events that have shaped her thus far.  This, unfortunately, was distracting.  To me, she sounded like a 12-13 year old (I think she was 15) which made for some uncomfortable reading in certain scenes.  Actually, there were a lot of uncomfortable scenes.  Too many for me.  There's a real sinister edge the entire way through, and while I often read (and enjoy) sad/tragic/dark novels, this one just felt a bit icky.  There were lots of creeps.  And that's all I'm gonna say about that.

Overall I liked it, but I wouldn't recommend it to teenagers younger than 16-17.  I'm putting this one in the 'hmmmmm' pile.

The Selection - Kiera Cass

I knew what to expect; a light romance set in a dystopian world.  Sounded fun, and I was prepared for the bad bits.  I liked: The setting - I'm a closet (not anymore!) fan of The Bachelor/Bachelorette, and love a good dystopian, so this was a perfect marriage!  Plus, castles and glitter and pretty dresses.  I'm a magpie, basically.  I quite liked most of the main characters - Maxon in particular.  He's a tad boring, but still likeable.  The pace worked, and I was hooked from beginning to end - I love a fast read!

Didn't like: The protagonist.  I didn't actively dislike her for the most part, with the exception of some especially annoying sequences in which she proved her worthiness as a 'woman of the people.'  Excerpt:

       "America, you're so nice.  All those people at the airport loved you."  
       "Oh, I was just being friendly.  You met people, too," I countered.  
       "Yeah, but not half as many as you."  
        I lowered my head, a little embarrassed for being complimented over something that seemed so obvious.

*gag*.  Unfortunately these moments of 'humility' were scattered the entire way through.  That and an extreme emphasis on physical beauty.  Conversely, being 'curvaceous' appeared to translate as 'unattractive', which made me grind my teeth just a little.

Well anyway I'm hooked now, and even though I already know exactly what is going to happen the entire way through (the mechanics are glaring), I will see this through to the very bitter end.

The list:
YA novels
Forest Born - Shannon Hale
Cinder - Marissa Meyer
If I Stay - Gayle Forman (read)
The Fault In Our Stars - John Green (read)
The Jewel - Amy Ewing (read)
The Selection - Kiera Cass (read)
The Elite - Kiera Cass (reading)
The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman (read)
Boy 21 - Matthew Quick (reading)
Love Letters To The Dead - Ava Dellaira

Contemporary/Adult lit
The Interestings - Meg Wolitzer (DNF)
Rules of Civility - Amor Towles

NZ fiction
(Middle Grade) The Volume of Possible Endings - Barbara Else (read)
Spark - Rachael Craw (read)


Is It Just Me? - Miranda Hart (read)
I Am Malala - Malala Yousafzai

Thank you to Gecko Press for providing a review copy of The Volume of Possible Endings :-) Tres grateful.

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