Book Talk: Resolutions

Friday 29 January 2016

I know I'm rather behind schedule with this post, seeing as it's almost February, but better late than never, right?

TBR Feature #3

Friday 22 January 2016

TBR Feature is the chance for me to, every now and then, pick one of my unread books and discuss it: why I picked it up, when I'll get round to reading it, if I'm still interested in it at all etc.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Book Review: Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers

Friday 15 January 2016

Life on the Refrigerator Door
Alice Kuipers
Genre(s): Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Young adult
Published: July 30th 2015
Pages: 240
Rating: 3 stars

Life on the Refrigerator Door is told exclusively through notes exchanged by Claire and her mother, Elizabeth, during the course of a life-altering year. Their story builds to an emotional crescendo when Elizabeth is diagnosed with breast cancer.

Stunningly sad but ultimately uplifting, this is a clever, moving, and original portrait of the relationship between a daughter and mother. It is about how we live our lives constantly rushing, and never making time for those we love. It is also an elegy to how much can be said in so few words, if only we made the time to say them.

I'll admit, I picked this up mainly because it was short and the idea about telling a story solely through notes on a fridge door intrigued me. I feel like novels written in ways other than traditional prose can be hit or miss, and Life on the Refrigerator Door didn't fail to prove me right.

While it was both a short and simple book with not a lot of room for character explanation, I did get a sense of both Claire and her mum as individuals. Claire came across as bubbly and dramatic in a way only a teenager can, and her mum came across as a no-nonsense workaholic. 

It didn't take me long to get through this, in fact I actually tried to drag it out in order to formulate thoughts for a review, which wasn't surprising. A lot of the notes were just that, so the idea worked very well. That being said, I would have liked some to be a bit longer (nothing was really longer than a page) in order to establish things a bit more and pad things out.

The idea behind Life on the Refrigerator Door was good, but I felt that the execution could have been better. Perhaps weaving the notes into prose would have worked out better and told more of a story, rather than a play by play of Claire and her mother's days.

I don't regret picking this up; it was an interesting read. Just not a great one.

Book Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Friday 8 January 2016

All the Bright Places
Jennifer Niven
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, Young adult
Published: January 8th 2015
Pages: 388
Rating: 2.5 stars

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. 

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it's unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the 'natural wonders' of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It's only with Violet that Finch can be himself - a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who's not such a freak after all. And it's only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet's world grows, Finch's begins to shrink.

Going into this and hearing the comparisons to The Fault in Our Stars, I was hoping that I'd like the characters and that they wouldn't be pretentious, overly-obnoxious teens that don't act like any teen ever. In the first few pages, I was happily rewarded with decent characters. Or at least, what I thought were decent characters. 

Finch soon revealed himself to be annoying, pretentious, obnoxious, and one-sided in that he was a non-mentally ill person's idea of what mental illness looks like. It was standard, which is fine as people do suffer like that and everyone is different, but it wasn't good. As someone deeply interested in psychology (and battling my own mental demons) I was sat there thinking 'what about x, y, and z?' These things are not black and white, or a checklist of symptoms, and I was hoping this would portray a wider range of issues, in a way unique to young adult fiction.

I wasn't a fan of all the quotes and pieces of trivia thrown into Finch's chapters. I get that it was part of his character, but it's not something I get on with when reading. It felt out of place, and more like Finch was trying to justify his actions and thoughts rather than actually feeling that way or using it as a way to cope. I don't know. I just wasn't a fan.

Niven's writing, however, was very good. It was easy to read and I got through it at a good pace. I liked the variety she included, with online conversations between Finch and Violet, flashbacks, and the chapter headings. 

In the end, I didn't dislike this. It was okay. Not quite what I wanted but just what I expected. It wasn't a powerful read, but it was definitely a thoughtful one.

2015 End of Year Book Survey

Friday 1 January 2016

Like last year and the year before that, I'm taking part in The Perpetual Page Turner's end of the year survey. I would also like to add that if you're looking for my previous end of year surveys, you'll have to look under the 'survery' label on my blog, because clearly I can't spell correctly.

Number of books you read: 95
Number of re-reads: 3
Genre you read the most from: young adult

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