Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Sweetness of Salt

The Sweetness of Salt by Cecilia Galante

The Sweetness of Salt is such a beautiful and real story, one without the teenage melodrama common in current YA fiction. Galante captures the essence of the family's struggle, giving it depth and importance without making it into a cliche. I loved the simplicity of this story, and especially how real these characters were. I would love to meet them sometime, stopping by the bakery for a cake and a chat. Simply lovely.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Girl Who Chased the Moon

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

I love this book and found it one of the most lovely works I've read in awhile. (Well, months. I've stumbled upon some excellent books lately.)

Allen's books all have that feeling of coming home. They offer beauty and gentleness, told with gorgeously evocative language. While I fell in love with Garden Spells first, and it probably remains my first love among her stories, this is a neck-in-neck second place winner.

Sarah writes the kind of stories I want to write, so I gladly look up to her as an excellent example of effortless and exemplary writing. While her books won't likely win major awards, they offer something more: heartfelt tales and characters and lives that stay with you long after the book closes.

Now I'm just anxious for her next to come out. Spring seems a long way off . . .

The Search for WondLa

The Search for WondLa (WondLa, #1)

The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi

I wish I had better things to say about this book. Of course the illustrations are gorgeous, but writing is not Mr. DiTerlizzi's strength. I imagine Spiderwick worked so well is because someone else wrote the story and he illustrated it.

I wish someone had taken a red pen to about 3/4 of the adjectives he used. The descriptions were so incredibly detailed, with sometimes two or three adjectives, the story takes much too long to tell. Sadly, I think his fame hurt him in this case because it was accepted for publication much too early. If a lot more work had been put into the language of the story, it might have been an incredible book. 

The only thing that (might) entice me to finish is the gorgeousness of the illustrations. If I do keep plugging away, I'll most likely skim the text and enjoy the illustrations. It's very disappointing.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sisters Red

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

I'm really torn on what I think about this book, which is often the hallmark of a good book: it makes you ponder what and how you feel about the characters and plot. The reason I give it 3 stars is because of several weaknesses in the characterization of Scarlett, but many of them could be easily overlooked by someone who really enjoys the story.The sisters' bond actually creeps me out. I read several reviews where it was mentioned that the relationship between the sisters was great and beautiful. I saw it more as an unhealthy possessive and controlling one. Scarlett saved Rosie's life when they were young. Because of that, both of them have come to the conclusion that Rosie should and must devote her life to Scarlett's obsessive need to kill wolves. Throughout, Rosie feels like she's betraying her sister when she even considers having her own life and falling in love.

I actually liked Rosie overall, and Silas was a good guy, so they made an excellent match. That was actually the most enjoyable part of the narrative for me. I loved how two childhood friends went from that to romance, especially with the awkwardness of realizing it and moving from just friends to boyfriend/girlfriend. The author did an excellent job conveying those emotions. I'd actually say that it was the biggest strength of the story and something that the author should explore. The paranormal action wasn't as convincing. I'd love to see Jackson explore writing contemporary YA romance because I suspect she'd be much better at that.

The problem I had through the whole book was with Scarlett. She was so single-minded and driven that she came off as almost one-dimensional, but not completely, if that makes any sense. I didn't enjoy being inside her head and would have much preferred that the story be told exclusively from Rosie's perspective instead of flipping back and forth between the two. Scarlett isn't a very likable character, but watching her and her passions from another person's viewpoint would have softened that tremendously.

I predicted the ending at about 1/3 of the way into the book, even before clues started to be dropped, which is highly disappointing. Other reviews mentioned the twist at the end, but I see it as more of a cop-out. The story would have been more satisfying and realistic had the author taken the hard path. The fact that it all ties up so neatly is something many readers of paranormal romances will love, but it's just not reality.

All of that said, it's definitely an interesting read and one that I would recommend to others. The writing is clean and not wanting for change, but the repetitive nature of several scenes made me wish for they had been trimmed from the manuscript. I did skim the last third of the book because I'd already figured out the big secret and just wanted to see how the book ended.

So long review summed up: a good read but nothing extraordinary.