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Month: July 2016

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

A love affair story set in New York and written like a dictionary? Yes, please!

This sounded like such a good idea when I was recommended to read this book by a friend and since I’m a huge fan of David Levithan anyway, it didn’t take much convincing.

It turned out that we had both met people online before, and we had both slept with people on first dates before, and we had both found ourselves falling too fast before. But we comforted ourselves with what we really meant to say which was: “I don’t normally feel this good about what I’m doing.”
In 185 snapshot moments, The Lover’s Dictionary tells the story of a love affair between two people in New York. Moving, funny, heart-breaking and life-affirming, it is a story that anyone who has ever fallen in love will recognise.

Not once during reading this book did I feel moved, did I laugh or feel heartbroken. I felt confused and I felt bored. This story just felt so disjointed, there was actually no story. It felt like a patchwork book where everything is jumbled together and there is no meaning.

“‘It was a mistake,’ you said. But the cruel thing was, it felt like the mistake was mine, for trusting you.”
– David Levithan, The Lover’s Dictionary
 
 

There were a few moments where I thought this book had potential – those feelings were near the beginning of the book, but I still had them – but I just got let down. The book is very quotable and Levithan uses this book to portray the ups and downs of a relationship and even mentions how little pet hates make you feel frustrated like when your other half leaves the cap off of the toothpaste. However, a book being ‘quotable’ does not make it a good book.

The plot was so disjointed that I didn’t even know what going on. Once I had finished the book, I actually turned to my Mom and said ‘I don’t know what happened’. I genuinely had no idea what story I had just read. I know that there were two lovers, I know that they’re together for two years but in what ‘chapter’, the narrator exclaims about being cheated on but then in the next ‘chapter’, everything is happy and like no cheating has happened. One ‘chapter’ is about the first date and then the next is when they’ve been together for one year. It isn’t in chronological order and it makes no sense.

I do think it’s a clever way for a book layout and I even got to learn the meaning of some different words that I can add to my vocabulary, but as I said before: it had so much potential and I just got let down.

The only other time that I would read this book is to see if I could make any sense of it a second time around.

Sorry, David Levithan, but this book was not good at all.

 

We Are All Made Of Molecules by Susin Nielsen

We Are All Made Of Molecules by Susin Nielsen



This book was one of my quick-buys when I went into Waterstones one day. It wasn’t on my TBR (to-be-read) list; I just saw it on the shelves, read the blurb and bought it. 

There are two sides to every story.
Stewart is geeky, gifted but socially clueless. His mom has died and he misses her every day.
Ashley is popular, cool but her grades stink. Her dad has come out and moved out – but not far enough.
Their worlds are about to collide: Stewart and his dad are moving in with Ashley and her mom. Stewart is 89.9% happy about it even as he struggles to fit in at his new school. But Ashley is 110% horrified and can’t get used to her totally awkward home. And things are about to become a whole lot more mixed up when they attract the wrong kind of attention…



I started and finished this book on my four-hour train journey from Aachen to Berlin. 

What I loved about this book was that it had the fresh, young voices of young teenagers. Stewart is 13 and Ashley is 14. Normally with teen fiction books, the main character is about 16/17.

What I didn’t like about this book was that they were 13 and 14. Feeling confused? Bear with me.

Using younger characters was a brilliant idea, it showed the transition from being a ‘child’ to a teenager and the troubles that come with that. Unfortunately, how the characters spoke on paper made them seem like they were about ten.

The character of Stewart is supposed to be gifted for his age, but sometimes he comes across and talks as though he’s a little boy. It’s the same with the character of Ashley. She’s 14; she should sound 14 – not ten.



“The next day, Mom made an appointment with the doctor. But it wasn’t a baby growing inside her. It was cancer.”
– Susin Nielsen, We Are All Made Of Molecules



I also hated the character of Ashley. You know those characters that you get that you love to hate? Ashley wasn’t one of them. I couldn’t stand her. She was moaning all of the time and complaining about her life like it was the worst thing in the world – granted most 13/14 year old complain most of the time that their life is horrible – and when I reading her chapters, I just wanted to get them over with.

The book got slightly better as it progressed; we learned a few things about some of the characters and there was some character development, but not an awful lot and the development that did happen was towards the end. I think the character that I like the most was Stewart. Even though he spoke like a five-year-old, he was still a very caring person and always tried to do the right thing no matter what.

There are a few mature moments in this book like dealing with death, drinking and attempted rape (although with the latter is described in very little detail and is stopped before anything happens. It happens for about a few lines.)

I would recommend this book but to those who do want to read it, keep an open mind that the two point of views are very childlike. It’s good, but it’s not a book that I would read again.
Warning: contains references to physical abuse. May trigger. 


Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Perks of Being a Wallflower is Stephen Chbosky’s debut book and boy, is it a fantastic one to start off your writing career.

It was released in 1999 but it’s only been in the last five years that it’s been recognised for the brilliant novel that it is.



Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way 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. But Charlie can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
This is the most beautiful coming of age story that I have ever read and no, that isn’t an exaggeration; I remember being captivated after reading Charlie’s first letter to his “friend”.



“I just want you to know that you’re very special… and the only reason I’m telling you is that I don’t know if anyone else ever has.”
– Stephen Chbosky, Perks of Being a Wallflower


The format in which Chbosky’s written this books is in that of letters, the story is told through them in which Charlie writes letters about his day over the course of him being fifteen and sixteen. It’s like reading a diary. Chbosky makes Charlie such an open, heart-endearing character that when you read him spilling his feelings out in the letters, you can’t help but want to wrap your arms around him and give him the biggest hug in the world.
It’s also written like a fifteen/sixteen-year-old would write as well. Chbosky doesn’t use any ‘fancy’ words or make the characters sound older than they are; the written style is short and simple sentences most of the time unless Charlie is practising his writing skills – then Chbosky slightly changes the writing style to suit Charlie’s.

I also loved how well-rounded the secondary characters were like Sam, Patrick, Mary Elizabeth, Bill and even Aunt Helen. It just showed how much of an incredible writer Chbosky is and how well-thought-out his characters were; I felt like I could connect with most of them on a personal level too which is one of the things that I love as an avid reader.

I recommend for everyone to read this book because this is a beautiful piece of literature that I’ve now read four times. I just can’t get enough!
Warning: contains references to physical/emotional abuse 


The Missing by C.L Taylor

The Missing by C.L Taylor

This is the first book that I have read by C.L Taylor. Ever since I read Gone Girl, I have become more and more interested in crime and thriller books which I’m quite excited about as it’s opened me up to a whole other genre.

When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing, his mother, Claire Wilkinson, blames herself. She’s not the only one. There isn’t a single member of Billy’s family that doesn’t feel guilty. But the Wilkinson’s are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn’t until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.



Claire is sure of two things – that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance.

A mother’s instinct is never wrong. Or is it?


I’m not quite sure how I feel about this book. Don’t get me wrong,  I read it in a day but there was something missing. I felt like I was reading it for the sake of it instead of pure enjoyment, instead of reading it because I needed to find out what had happened to Billy.

The book opens up with a morbid conversation on Whatsapp between two people with the usernames ‘Jackdaw44’ and ‘ICE9’. I like the use of modern technology to add as a break in between chapters but as the book progressed, I found the conversations to be quite disturbing which I’m guessing is what C.L Taylor wanted the reader to feel. Throughout the book, I couldn’t guess as to who these two mysterious characters were. I knew that one of them had to be Billy but I didn’t know who the second one was; I kind of suspected that it was another guy and when I found out who it was, I was completely shocked but I also didn’t understand. The shocking revelation at the end didn’t really make sense to me for some reason.

I also felt like I didn’t connect with the characters which was an absolute shame because that’s one of the things that I love the most about reading; I just didn’t feel like they were well-rounded. I think the most fleshed out character was Liz – who is a secondary character.



“We all have secrets. Most are guilty, a few are wretched and some are too precious to share.”
– C.L Taylor, The Missing
 
 


So far, it might sound like this book is really bad and that you shouldn’t buy it but wait! I do like C.L Taylor’s style of writing and I did enjoy the use of the Whatsapp conversation snippets, I also liked how The Missing was in the style of a whodunit book. Each member of the family is a suspect throughout the book and there always seemed to be a change of events that would make me change my mind on who had something to do with Billy’s disappearance.

I mentioned earlier that I didn’t read it because I needed to find out what happened to Billy. This is true in the sense that from the very start, I didn’t like his character. I thought he was smart-mouthed and a pain so I didn’t really care what happened to him, but the book still did contain some thrills.

Using Claire’s fugues was a brilliant idea because this added another element of mystery to the book. ‘What is Claire doing in these forgotten moments of time?’, ‘could she have done something to Billy and not remember it?’, ‘what’s causing these fugues?’. These were the questions swirling around in my head whilst I was reading the parts when she had lost time. *Or was it aliens? Ooooooo! Somebody call Mulder and Scully!*

Overall, I like how this book was written it takes quite a long time to get started (170 pages to be exact!) but when it does, the ball gets rolling and you’re in for shock after shock and the characters lies come to the surface. It was also a massive shame that I didn’t connect with any of the characters.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Leave a comment below!


I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

 

When I first read Jandy Nelson’s debut novel: The Sky is Everywhere back in 2010 when it came out, I was encapsulated by Nelson’s writing style and the characters that she creates. 

I’ll Give You The Sun is another magical novel from the mind of Jandy Nelson. A story that will bring you to tears and make you laugh, a story that has characters you will love until the end.

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. But something shocking drives Jude and Noah apart to the point where they are barely speaking. Jude meets a broken, egotistical boy who she is dying to find out more about and Noah is falling in love with the new boy next door. Both Noah and Jude are changed in dramatic ways and both halves of their stories need to find a way to intertwine so that they can find their way back to one another, so they have a chance to remake their world.

One of the things that were brilliant about this book was how real the characters were; it felt like I was on their journeys alongside them. I also loved how descriptive the book was and how Nelson made Noah and Jude’s artwork so magical and real, you could smell the paint underneath your nose, you could envision their paintings like they were on the walls around you.
What I also found fascinating about this book was how each character’s story was told from two different age perspectives. Noah’s story is told from the ages of thirteen through to fourteen and Jude’s is told from the age of sixteen and by doing this, we get to see the happenings of the big events in the book through two completely different sets of eyes.
“I think you can sort of slip out of your life and it can be hard to find your way back in.”
– Jandy Nelson, I’ll Give You The Sun
 
 
I will admit at first, I fell in love with the character of Noah and his story and thought that his character was more intriguing than that of Jude, but as the story continued, Jude’s character is fleshed out and becomes this girl who just wants to be seen.
Even the secondary characters in this book are thought out beautifully and jump to life like Oscar, Brian, Guillermo and even Prophet the parrot!
The only thing that I didn’t really like is the reunion of Brian and Noah at the end of the novel. I felt like it was rushed and there wasn’t any description of the scene which was bizarre since there had been loads of description of the two characters in the rest of the book.
But, that was only a few sentences and those few sentences did not ruin the book. I’ll Give You The Sun is one of those novels that I could read, read and read again, a book that I just wouldn’t get tired of and those books – in my opinion – are the best type of books.
I fully recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an emotional rollercoaster of a read and someone who wants to dedicate their heart to characters who need to be loved, who need to be understood and characters that you just want to be real.

Jandy Nelson has done it again – another epic book.

 

Side note:
Also, look how beautiful the page designs are for the book! They are so amazing and you come across a different design every other page which I find incredible! It’s very rare that I find a book that decorates the pages, so I love it when they do!