Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

Whenever I sit down and review a book like this, I can’t do it.  How do I explain to you what the experience of reading this series is like if you haven’t read it?  I can’t, but I guess it’s my job to try.

This is a series of books that doesn’t stop moving from the very first page.  It can be overwhelming at times and I know some people have complained about the pace of these books.  There’s rarely a chance to come up to breathe.  Though I myself wasn’t disappointed with Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, a lot of people were and this just might be the perfect antidote.

Ness never makes things easy for Todd and Viola.  I don’t want to ruin this for anyone who hasn’t read the rest of the series, but it will break your heart over and over again.  I have shed more than a few tears reading this series.

Is it really over?  I can’t believe it.  There’s definitely more room for Ness to return to this world.  Maybe not with Todd and Viola, but with other characters on the same planet.  I hope he does.  I’m not ready to leave it.

We get the perspective of another character in this book and it is perfect.  This series is so unbelievably innovative and original.  I’m just at a loss for words right now.  This book is amazing, this series is perfect.  Read it.

Like many reviews of this book have done, let me just point you straight to Nymeth’s review.  How she manages to be so articulate about the Chaos Walking series I will never know, but it might be one of the best reviews of a book I’ve ever read.  Just like this series is one of the best I’ve ever read.  So you know, what are you waiting for?

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books that Made You Cry

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday list is near and dear to my heart – books that make you cry!  Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I tend to let the waterworks flow when it comes to anything that is remotely sad.  That Kleenex commercial where everyone talks about their sadnesses?  Yup, made me cry.  That phone commercial where the couple falls in love and their son becomes president?  Might have shed a tear or two.  Every Lifetime movie ever made? Forget about it.  When it comes to books, I’m a little more discerning.  Only certain books have really made me cry buckets, but here they are.

Note: Yes, this means I have returned from Spain!  I will be posting all about it soon!  Once I get all my pictures in order.  Oh, friends I have some stories to tell you!

 

1. If I Stay by Gayle Foreman – This book didn’t just make me cry, it made me sob.  I sobbed unrelenting buckets of tears, all the while trying to remain very very quiet because everyone in the house was still sleeping.  If I Stay is about Mia, a girl who has a wonderful life with her wonderful family and boyfriend.  Except for when, on an afternoon drive, her mother, father and brother are killed in a car accident that leaves her in a coma, but still conscious of her surroundings.  Mia is left with a choice: should she stay, and live in this new world she doesn’t understand that doesn’t include her family, or should she join her family?  And I know that description sounds trite, but this book is full of absolutely wonderful moments that make the loss of Mia’s family unbearable.  My review of this book is clearly pitiful because I did not once mention how much it made me cry.

2. Say the Word by Jeannine Garsee – I read this book for Nerds Heart YA and it made it all the way to the final round!  Though it was runner-up and not the winner of the whole tournament, this book is one that everyone should read.  Shawna’s mom leaves her father for another woman and Shawna never forgives her.  In the first few chapters, Shawna’s mother dies and she is left with all sorts of questions about what happened between her mother and father, not to mention an entirely new family.  This book is touching and real  and often heartbreaking, but it’s a wonderful story.

3. Looking for Bapu by Anjali Banerjee – This book is bound to make anyone cry, about a precocious young boy whose grandfather dies when they go on a walk together.  Anu tries to understand his grandfather’s death by becoming closer to the gods.  This book is seriously amazing and paired with the fact that I read it shortly after losing my own grandmother, I cried, a lot.

4. The Untelling by Tayari Jones – Jones’s lovely novel about a woman who is trying to have a baby is perfect.  I loved every single thing about it, including the connection I felt with Aria.  Her situation brought me to tears quite a few times.

5. The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb – I have a lot of bones to pick with Mr. Lamb, but the first 100 or so pages of this book that described, through Lamb’s unique fictional lens, the tragedy of Columbine absolutely shattered me.  I didn’t stop crying and finished the rest of this 700-page doorstop in two days.

6. City of Thieves by David BanioffCity of Thieves is a comedy, so perhaps it’s a bit strange that it is appearing on this list, but it is exactly because of its humor that the ending of this book is so tragic and tear-worthy.

7. The Night Watch by Sarah Waters – I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about this book before.  I loved this book to pieces and I think it is the best thing that Sarah Waters has ever written (yes, it’s better than Fingersmith).  I don’t know that I thought that at the time I read it, but since then it has made it possibly into my top ten list.  This story is so sad, like most of Waters’s stories, so you’re going to go into it prepared, but it still made me cry.  I listened to it on audio, so that was awkward.  I guess I could always say I was crying because of the traffic.

8. Kitchen by Banana Yohsimoto – Go read this book.  Just do it.  It defies description and is just amazing.  Also might make you cry.

9. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patric Ness – I’m sure this one made a lot of lists.  This book is sad for many reasons, but there’s always that one reason that gets everyone in the end.  I’m currently reading Monsters of Men, the third book in the trilogy and I was just reminded about that thing that made everyone cry and I almost teared up again.

10. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien – This is another book that I have shouted from the rooftops that everyone should read, but nothing made me cry like hearing Tim O’Brien read aloud from this book and a book that he is currently working on.  There was not a dry eye in that entire tent during the 2009 National Book Festival.

For more Top Ten Tuesdays, check out The Broke and the Bookish.

BBAW Day 3 – Unexpected Treasures

Welcome to Day 3 of Book Blogger Appreciation Week!  The goal of Unexpected Treasures is to highlight a book, genre of books or author that you tried because a book blogger recommended it and what that experience was like.

I’m going to start big and broad and go smaller, so the first one might be a bit of a shock to people who read my blog regularly, but the first thing that bloggers really influenced me on was… bringing Young Adult fiction back into my life.  Yes, that’s right.  Before I started blogging, I was reading exclusively literary fiction.  Once I finally kicked that habit (thank god), I realized what I had been missing.  I loved YA fiction when I was a YA (not all that long ago), so why was there some mysterious switch that flipped as soon as I turned 18?  You’re in college now, so put those silly books away!  Well, clearly that’s ridiculous.

Now, about 40% of the books I read are Young Adult oriented and I’m perfectly satisfied with that number.  I’m not sure I can ever imagine going back to reading just literary fiction ever again.  It was a little depressing, if I’m honest.  And I would have missed such great books!  There are the obvious ones, like The Hunger Games and The Knife of Never Letting Go, but what about Fat Cat and Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature? Those are amazing novels and I would hate to have missed them.

Thank you book bloggers, you have saved me a lifetime of monotony!

Next I’ll talk about two authors that seem to be wildly popular in the real world as much as the blogging world, but that I had never heard of: Neil Gaiman and John Green.  I know!  Now, I had unknowingly heard of Gaiman through the movie Stardust, but other than that both authors were completely unknown to me.  With both of them, it is like I have discovered an entire world of literature that I didn’t even know existed.  Even though my experiences with Gaiman have only been so-so, what I liked about the novels I’ve read (American Gods, Coralineand Good Omens) I liked a lot.  I think one of my next goals should be reading another Gaiman novel!  Now, for John Green, not only did I have plenty of very charming YA books to read (An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns so far), I also was exposed to Nerdfighteria.  Now, I exist only on the outskirts of this amazing group of young people, but it’s fun to sit back and just watch them be amazing.

Finally, most specifically, is a book that I probably never would have picked up if I hadn’t seen a review on a book blog: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.  I don’t have a specific link to the first review or second review that made me pick this book  up and I don’t think my review really does justice to how I felt about this book.  I loved it, loved it, loved it.  It recalled everything I loved about literature as a child, literally with its references to A Wrinkle  in Time and more basically with its delightful characters, structure and plot.  I probably never would have picked up When You Reach Me and I’m so grateful to book bloggers for making that happen.  I’ve already given this book to one of my sisters as a gift, with a copy of A Wrinkle in Time, too and I plan on giving it to my younger sister as well.

So there you have it, wonderful books and genres and authors that I never would have tried if it hadn’t been for fabulous book bloggers.  Thanks, everyone!