Book Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Impossible Knife of Memory

Title: The Impossible Knife of Memory
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Text Publishing
Publication Date: January 2014
Pages: 304
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
For the past five years Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq.

Now they are back in town where he grew up so Hayley can go to a proper school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over?

My Review:

Hayley has been helping her dad, Andy, fight the demons inside his head for years. But when things start to get even worse, Andy moves them both back to the town he grew up in to give Hayley some kind of a normal life. Preferring to be on the road than stuck in public school, Hayley tries to make the most of it for her dad’s sake but things get more difficult when people from their past and the nightmares Andy face become unavoidable. And then there’s Finn – a boy who won’t let Hayley ignore him – pushes himself into her life. 

I’ve never read a Laurie Halse Anderson novel before and I’m so glad that I got the opportunity to read The Impossible Knife of Memory. It’s a beautiful story about a teenage girl with a lot of responsibility trying to keep her small family together. She has a lot of love for her dad but she’s also scared. Scared of what might happen to him and scared for herself when the past gets a hold of him and she can’t bring him back. Hayley is a great character. She’s tough because she has needed to be and isn’t an easy person for others to get to know. It makes a lovely contrast with the effervescent Finn who calls Hayley out on her prickly nature and brings out the best in her. Together they are one of my favourite fictional couples because they both have their own problems with neither one of them being perfect however they do make each other stronger. The development of their relationship throughout the book is a strength. I loved getting to see them interact as strangers then something more and finally seeing them support each other as a couple when life gets tough. 

This is a book about relationships and in addition to the romance between Hayley and Finn, there is also the father/daughter dynamic between Hayley and Andy. It’s a hard relationship because whilst as a reader it is evident that there is a lot of love on both sides, it’s also a relationship that is dangerous and destructive for both of them. Hayley is doing all she can but it’s not enough and both she and Andy know it. Dispersed throughout Hayley’s narrative are memories from Andy’s time as a soldier. There may only be short and few however they show where Andy’s head is. I really felt for Hayley – she’s trying to do so much and this part of the novel is heartbreaking. 

The Impossible Knife of Memory is a beautifully written book. I loved how the authors described memories and situations. The relationships are heartbreaking yet there is hope and I think that’s what makes this book so emotionally draining. There is so much love and yet there is the knowledge that it might not be enough. The supporting characters being drama, distraction but ultimately help the story and Hayley along. It’s only six weeks into the year but I have no doubt that come December this book will still be among my favourites for 2014.  

 

 

 

Thanks to Text Publishing for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: Belonging by Karen Ann Hopkins

Belonging

Title: Belonging (Temptation #2)
Author: Karen Ann Hopkins
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: May 2013
Pages: 432
Rating: 1.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
I left everything I knew behind.
But it was worth it. He was worth it.

No one thought an ordinary girl like me would last two minutes living with the Amish, not even me. There are a lot more rules and a lot less freedom, and I miss my family and the life I once had. Worst of all, Noah and I aren’t even allowed to see each other. Not until I’ve proven myself.

If I can find a way to make it work, we’ll be NOAH & ROSE  together forever.

But not everybody believes this is where I belong.

My Review:

Rose knows that what she has with Noah is forever. She’s given up her English ways and is willing to become a real Amish girl if it means she can be with Noah. Trading in her dancing shoes and family for a white bonnet and life without modern technology, Rose knows that things are not going to be easy. She has to impress the community Elders before the small close knit society will even consider letting Noah court Rose. But to be with the man she loves – Rose is sure all the change and sacrifice will be worth it.

This is was an interesting read for me because by the time I finished the novel, I wasn’t sure I liked any of the characters. Rose is trying to fit in with Amish society solely for Noah. She moves in with a family and learns the ways of the women – from cooking to cleaning, mending and social expectations – there is a lot for her to take in. With her formerly supportive family now behaving as if she has joined a cult and her interactions with Noah being severely limited due to dating customs, Rose is alone in a foreign world – one where she doesn’t even speak the language. I admired Rose for the choice she made to sacrifice a lot for love and Noah however I disagree with some of the decisions she made. Despite trying to toe the line as a good Amish girl, Rose still lives in the belief that she can change Noah and convert him to the English way of life. She uses her feminine wiles on him and goes as far as making vows to a church and a faith she doesn’t believe in. I understand that Rose is young (only sixteen/seventeen throughout this book), however I believe that is old enough to understand what she’s doing. She wants the world to take her relationship with Noah seriously however there are times when she acts incredibly childish and immature. Noah on the other hand is portrayed fairly badly throughout this book. The thing he loves most about Rose is the thing that he wants to change. He is unwilling to compromise regarding Rose and his Amish beliefs and I got the feeling that his main reason for wanting to be with Rose was to get her into bed. He does some pretty terrible things – goes as far as to potentially ruin an Amish girl’s entire life just as some kind of retaliation for how Rose made him feel. I could not believe that he was telling Rose to cut ties with her family and how he couldn’t stand Rose’s opinions and frequently kissed her to shut her up.

I was disappointed at how easily it was for Noah and Rose to give up on each other. For a love that was stronger than anything else in the world, it didn’t take much to break it. Rose’s family have seemed to have done a one-eighty since the first book. They were supportive of Rose and her choices and now they behave terribly and I don’t quite understand why. We do get to see some of Sam’s (Rose’s older brother) feelings about the situation from occasional chapters told from his point of view, but it felt fairly shallow (After two months of Rose living with the Amish, he continues to burst into laughter each time he sees her new clothing but apparently still wants her away from the cultists… it just didn’t quite feel authentic). Sam’s involvement with Rose’s new friend was an interesting turn of events however added little to the overall story.

I wanted to learn more about the Amish culture from this book however I felt like it wasn’t very well explored. I think the only things I learned were the clothes were dowdy, the weddings devoid of colour and the church services extremely long.

The author took a brave move with this book – she could have written another book about star-crossed lovers who always behaved perfectly and were flawless. But these characters all have their issues and in many ways that makes them more realistic. Everyone in this book makes mistakes and I admire the author for taking that route. There are a lot of problems that the characters in this book have to face and Noah and Rose have a tough road ahead of them.

The third book of the Temptation series, Forever,  was released last month and despite my problems with Belonging, I’m still eager to see what happens next. This book left us on a slight cliff-hanger and I’m curious as to the fallout in the Amish community and just how Noah and Rose compromise to find a happy ending.  

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: Taste of Darkness by Maria V Snyder

Taste of Darkness (Healer, #3)

Title: Taste of Darkness (Healer #3)
Author: Maria V Snyder
Genre: Fantasy, Magic, Young Adult, Last in a Series
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: January 2014
Pages: 458
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
She’s fought death and won. But how can she fight her fears?

Avry knows hardship and trouble. She fought the plague and survived. She took on King Tohon and defeated him. But now her heart-mate, Kerrick, is missing, and Avry fears he’s gone forever.

But there’s a more immediate threat. The Skeleton King plots to claim the Fifteen Realms for his own. With armies in disarray and the dead not staying down, Avry’s healing powers are needed now more than ever.Torn between love and loyalty, Avry must choose her path carefully. For the future of her world depends on her decision.

My Review:

The war for control of the Fifteen Realms is just getting started. King Tohon may be no longer a threat but there are many factions all vying for the crown. The Skeleton King with a passion for human flesh, Estrid’s forces and former rivals coming back out of the wood work, Avry and her faithful friends have their hands full. With a mutated version of the Plague back in the mix, Avry needs to stay strong and do whatever she can for the cause.

Maria V Snyder is not easy on her characters – they are living in the middle of a war and there are casualties to be had. Avry is trying to do the best she can to help Prince Ryne defeat his enemies and return the Fifteen Realms back to some sort of normality however, he is willing to do whatever it takes – sacrifice whoever he needs – in order to defeat the others. Avry is such a great character. She’s determined to do what is right for herself and doesn’t take orders very well. Her bickering with Ryne is somewhat reminiscent of just how  she used to banter with Kerrick in the first book and it’s nice to know that despite all that has changed, some things stay the same.

There is so much happening in this book. I was a little critical of Scent of Magic because I thought it felt like a bridging novel. And whilst I still believe that – it was worth reading to get to this book. As far as final books in a series go, Taste of Darkness is amazing. Things referenced in the first novel are re-addressed and everything that happened in the first two novels was leading to this moment. We get to see more about the different magic users and the extent in which some of their power and affinities effect them.

One of the things I’ve liked most about this series is Avry and her relationships with her friends – Flea, Belen, the Monkeys and Kerrick – and that hasn’t changed. As they grow older and wiser, their relationships have strengthened throughout all they have experienced. Avry’s romantic relationship with Kerrick is at times heartbreaking but these are two characters which bring out the best in each other and whilst they don’t always agree with each other, they do support one another’s decisions.

This is the first series by Maria V Snyder that I’ve read and I loved getting to experience the world she created and witness the battle of the Fifteen Realms. She’s a great fantasy author and I will definitely be reading some of her other books now that I’ve finished reading the Healer series.

 

 Thanks to Harlequin Teen Australia for the review copy. 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Top Ten Tuesday: Books with Swoon-worthy Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

The topic for this week is: Top Ten Books That Will Make You Swoon

Thinking about what makes me swoon in a book – it’s when characters have a certain something special about them. So I’m changing it up. My list is going to be books with characters who make me swoon (also – I think I need to stop using the word swoon as it’s making me a little crazy).

So here we go. Here are ten books which I consider to have perfectly swoon-worthy leading men! (Clicking the book title will take you to the book’s page on goodreads.)

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (Étienne St. Clair)

Anna and the French Kiss

Easy by Tammara Webber (Lucas)

Easy

Crash Into You by Katie McGarry (Isaac)

Crash into You (Pushing the Limits, #3)

Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand (Tucker)

Unearthly (Unearthly, #1)

Healer series by Maria V Snyder (Kerrick)

Touch of Power (Healer, #1)

Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas (Chaol Westfall)

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill (Finn)

All Our Yesterdays

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (Captain Thorne)

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (Joe Fontaine)

The Sky Is Everywhere

Vampire Academy series & Bloodlines series both by Richelle Mead (Dimitri & Adrian)

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1) Bloodlines (Bloodlines, #1)

These are the books with characters which make me swoon. Any you liked? Any you hated? Do you have any recommendations for me based on this week’s list? Feel free to leave me a comment. Happy Tuesday! 🙂

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Book Review: Secret by Brigid Kemmerer

Secret (Elemental, #4)

Title: Secret (Elementals #4)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Magic, Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Allen & Unwin (Australia), Kensington Teen (US)
Publication Date: January 2014
Pages: 375
Rating: 4.5 stars

Note: The Australian edition of Secret contains Nick’s novella, Breathless, which introduces the dynamic between Nick and Quinn as well as Adam.

Synopsis (from goodreads):

Nick Merrick is stretched to breaking point. He’s trying to keep his grades sky-high or he won’t get in to college. He’s trying to keep his brother’s business afloat or the Merricks will be out on the street. He’s trying to keep the secret of where he’s going in the evenings from his twin brother Gabriel – or he fears he’ll lose his family. And he’s trying to keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who is his ‘girlfriend’s’ partner.

And then Quinn takes to hanging around his sworn enemy, and an Elemental Guide is counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers. Storms are brewing. On all sides.

SECRETS IN THE WIND. DANGER IN THE AIR.

My Review:

Nick Merrick has been keeping a secret. He’s been having feelings for his girlfriend’s male dance partner and Quinn is the only one who knows. But Quinn has a secret of her own. Her homelike has been getting worse by the day and she feels like she can’t tell everyone just how bad things are with her mother and older brother. The Guides are getting closer and the threat to the Elemental Merrick brothers is imminent. With Tyler, a local teen who has been torturing the brothers for years, popping up and Nick’s secret growing heavy on him, Nick needs to decide who he can trust before things get out of his control.

I’ve been a fan of this series since I read the first book, Storm, and I get more attached to the Merrick clan with each new instalment. This book focuses on the romantic relationships between Nick and Adam as well as Quinn and Tyler. I do enjoy the romance in this series and it felt like it was going back to the start where more of the focus in the novel was romance and less drama. However I found myself missing some of the action and excitement that the Guides bring. In many ways the prologue felt slightly out-of-place – with a discussion between the Guide which caused Hunter so much pain in Spirit but then not being addressed for the rest of the novel.

Whilst the title of this book doesn’t follow the Elemental aspect of previous books, Secret is a perfectly fitting title. Near all the characters in this novel have secrets that they don’t know how to handle. From Nick’s sexuality to Quinn’s family and the part of himself that Tyler is keeping hidden from the world – the theme of secrets was beautifully reiterated throughout the book. One of the things I liked most about this book was how supportive the majority of characters were when faced with other’s secrets.

Overall I enjoyed this book. This novel was a pleasure to read and with a few surprises that I was not expecting (I can’t wait to see the fallout from the ending).  With the focus being more on romance and relationships as opposed to the Elementals vs. Guides battle, Secret felt like it was laying a lot of ground work for the next book in the series. There’s a lot up in the air (no Air Elemental pun intended!),  I can not wait for Michael’s story, Sacrifice.

 Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Check out my reviews for the other books in the Elemental series:

Storm (Elementals #1)

Spark (Elementals #2)

Spirit (Elementals #3)

Novellas: Elemental (Elementals #0.5), Fearless (Elementals #1.5), Breathless (Elementals #2.5)

Book Review: How They Met (and Other Stories) by David Levithan

How They Met, and Other Stories

Title: How They Met (and Other Stories)
Author: David Levithan
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Short Stories
Publisher: Text Publishing
Publication Date: January 2014
Pages: 256
Rating: 3.5  stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Eighteen stories, all about love, and about all kinds of love.

From the aching for the one you pine for, to standing up and speaking up for the one you love, to pure joy and happiness, these love stories run the gamut of that emotion that at some point has turned every one of us inside out and upside down.

What is love?

With this original story collection David Levithan proves that love is a varied, complicated, addictive, wonderful thing.

My Review: 

As David Levithan says in his introduction, How They Met (and other stories) is a book of stories about love rather than love stories. Each of the eighteen short stories gives a look into different types of love and relationships. With stories about the first sparks of attraction to tales of heartbreak and parental disapproval – this anthology covers a whole range of emotions and situations.

The stories contained in How We Met feature a variety of types of relationships – from two boys falling in love to a girl being heartbroken when her girlfriend moves on and heterosexual couples and their love stories. With many of the stories, the gender of the narrator is a little ambiguous for the first few pages and I liked the vagueness. Whilst sexuality is a theme in these stories, the unclearness of the narrator made it appear that the issues faced and situations the characters are in a universal (for the most part) regardless of sexual orientation.

For me, the sum is greater than the parts. I enjoyed many of the stories but I think the strength lies in how they fit together as a compilation. The variety is fantastic and yet they all manage to come together and feel like they each belong in the same collection.

Favourite Stories: Starbucks Boy, The Number of People Who Meet on Airplanes, Princes, A Romantic Inclination. 

Favourite Quotes:

“Every two people cause and intersection.
Every person alters the world.” from Intersection

“Sallie and James had both life and the laws of physics working against them. You see, Sallie Brown and James Helprin were good friends.
Which adds a certain friction to our equation.” from A Romantic Inclination

“You have to believe there are kisses and laughs and risks worth taking”

 

Thanks to Text Publishing for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Will Make You Cry!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

The topic for this week is: Top Ten Books That Will Make You Cry!

I’m not usually a very emotional person. But there are some books that made me tear up and on the odd occasion burst into tears. Extremely embarrassing if it’s when you’re on public transport on the way to work or school…. but those are the books that I’m putting on this week’s list. The books that I couldn’t restrain my emotions even when in very public and oh-so embarrassing places…

I read all of these books before I was a teenager and I remember being devastated by them. I am David was the first book I remember crying in public over. My year 5 teacher read the book aloud to us and it was the saddest thing I ever heard. Anne of Green Gables may not seem that sad but in Anne of the Island… I was holding in tears hoping that Gilbert would be okay! The next book, Goodnight Mister Tom was a book I owned for years before I finally read it. My mother bought it for me but I thought it looked boring but when I finally read it…. definitely a book where I used a few tissues. Little Women is a book that I have read over and over throughout the years but the first time I read it – I wasn’t expecting certain things to happen. There were sad tears in this book but also ones of frustration. I wrote my first fanfiction (before I knew what fanfiction was) rewriting the ending because I wasn’t a fan of how everything went down.

I am David Anne of the Island (Anne of Green Gables, #3) Goodnight Mister Tom Little Women

These books I’ve read more recently. I won’t be surprised if I see TFiOS on my people’s lists this week. John Green certainly knows how to write a heartbreaking novel. If I Stay was one that I was expecting to be sad… but I wasn’t quite prepared. I held up okay right until the grandfather said his part but after that I couldn’t contain myself. The last Harry Potter was one that made me cry. Not so much for the story but the fact that it was over. The series that I’d been reading and anticipating for so many years and then it was just over… heartbreaking. Hannah Harrington is an author who writes powerful contemporary novels with a bitter-sweet edge. Both Speechless and Saving June both moved me and I recommend them both. I reviewed Bird last week and it definitely belongs on this week’s list – made me tear up a little. And last on my list this week is The Storyteller. I read this one last year and wasn’t expecting to be affected considering I’ve read quite a few Jodi Picoult novels and never got too emotional over them but this one is touching and tragic.

The Fault in Our Stars If I Stay Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7) Speechless Saving June Bird The Storyteller

These are the books that made me cry/tear up. There’s a bit of variety here but for possibly the first time ever – it’s mostly contemporary and not another paranormal/dystpian list! Any here that made you cry? Any that you would recommend I read? How about any stories of a book making you show a lot of emotion in public? All stories are welcome! Feel free to leave me a comment. Happy Tuesday to all.

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