Review: The Accident Season

fowley-doyle-accident-seasonTitle: The Accident Season

Author: Moira Fowley-Doyle

Published: August 18, 2015

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

It’s the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara’s life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara’s family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items – but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.

But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?

A few months ago, the Top Ten Tuesday topic was “Books Set Outside the US” (see my post here). As The Accident Season takes places in Ireland, many bloggers included it on their lists and ranted and raved about it. I had never heard of it before. But then a few days later I was at the library, and it jumped out at me on the shelves, even though I’d never seen it before. I decided I had to get it and read it, and I’m so glad I did!

The Accident Season is such an original and lovely book. It’s creepy and magical and strange and imaginative. There are tarot cards and lots of whiskey and an abandoned ghost house. There are secrets and accidents and changelings. There are dreamcatchers hanging from trees, and messages typed on typewriters and displayed around the room. The whole thing is so atmospheric, if that’s the right word. Everything, from the style of writing to the plot to the objects and the characters, contributes to a strange and haunting sort of mood.

I loved the idea of the secrets booth set up at school, where students typed up their secrets in private on a typewriter and put them in a box. Then all the secrets are displayed in a room. I think that would be such a cool thing to view, and to see all these anonymous secrets and confessions that you maybe relate to.

October is the perfect month for this book to be set during – October with its black cats and witches and creepy happenings. The whole book is leading up to a Halloween party set in an abandoned mansion, appropriately named the Black Cat and Whiskey Moon Masquerade Ball.

I’ve been reading a lot of magical realism books this year, and I’m so glad this was one of them. I would highly recommend it.

Favourite Quotes:

“Accidents happen. Our bones shatter, our skin splits, our hearts break. We burn, we drown, we stay alive.”

“We bite back the things we can’t say and we cushion every surface for the inevitable moment when they all come fighting out.”

“There are no ghosts; only the dust in the light, our breath and the wind in the quiet, and the feeling that something, or a lot of somethings, are watching us. So maybe there are ghosts after all.”

“So let’s raise our glasses to the accident season,
To the river beneath us where we sink our souls,

To the bruises and secrets, to the ghosts in the ceiling,
One more drink for the watery road.”

You might also like: Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma, The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

 

Review: Places No One Knows

Yovanoff Places no one

Title: Places No One Knows

Author: Brenna Yovanoff

Published: May 17, 2016

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

For fans of Lauren Oliver and E. Lockhart, here is a dreamy love story set in the dark halls of contemporary high school, from New York Times bestselling author Brenna Yovanoff.

Waverly Camdenmar spends her nights running until she can’t even think. Then the sun comes up, life goes on, and Waverly goes back to her perfectly hateful best friend, her perfectly dull classes, and the tiny, nagging suspicion that there’s more to life than student council and GPAs.

Marshall Holt is a loser. He drinks on school nights and gets stoned in the park. He is at risk of not graduating, he does not care, he is no one. He is not even close to being in Waverly’s world.

But then one night Waverly falls asleep and dreams herself into Marshall’s bedroom—and when the sun comes up, nothing in her life can ever be the same. In Waverly’s dreams, the rules have changed. But in her days, she’ll have to decide if it’s worth losing everything for a boy who barely exists.

Places No One Knows is an unusual book. I know the synopsis makes it sound a bit like a typical teen novel with all the common tropes: the perfect, overachieving girl; the slacker guy who drinks and does drugs; a romance that develops between two people of completely different cliques/social classes/insert any other category here. How many times has that been done, right? But trust me when I say it’s not like that.

Waverly, for one, is not your typical perfect popular girl. She has two tarantulas as pets. She likes gory horror movies. She is a bit of a sociopath: when asked why she’s friends with certain people, she says, “They have their uses.” She puts on a mask for the world and plays her role. Nobody knows her true thoughts and feelings. And Marshall – Marshall feels too much all the time, and that can be too much, and I just want to wrap him up in a big hug.

dream girlDreams can be fascinating, and the ideas of waking up in someone else’s dream or dreaming yourself into someone’s life are pretty cool. Beyond the dream aspect, there were no other paranormal/fantasy aspects, so this was more realistic than some of Brenna Yovanoff’s other books. Waverly dreaming herself into Marshall’s room essentially served the purpose of allowing them to connect and get to know each other away from prying eyes, when they normally would never talk to each other.

I just loved what developed between Waverly and Marshall. There were several scenes that epitomized, or tried to, showing someone all the messy, ugly parts of yourself, the parts you normally keep hidden, and yet they say, I see all of you and I still want/like you anyway. And isn’t that all anyone wants? I was rooting for Waverly and Marshall to allow themselves to be vulnerable and embrace what they have, despite what others might think.

Places No One Knows is well-written and has a dreamy quality to it, which makes sense given the subject matter. I loved this book; it was one of those ones where I wanted to keep reading more and more of it, yet at the same time I wanted to go slow and savour it. The reader’s dilemma! I would definitely recommend it.

Favourite Quotes:

“The way he watches me is physical – a pressure on my skin. He is so tender, so immediate, and I am only good at wanting things from a safe distance.”

“It’s so hard to love someone when you have to do it in the open. The second you expose a thing to air, it has already begun to oxidize.”

“There’s an inevitability to telling the truth – people never react the way you need them to.”

Favourite Book to Movie Adaptations: Part 1

As a booklover, I sometimes have a love-hate relationship with movies based on books I’ve read. On the one hand, it can be awesome to see your favourite books brought to life on the big screen. On the other, it can be irritating or downright disappointing when certain details or subplots are left out, major events are changed, or the essence of a character is lost. Here are some of my favourite book to movie adaptations (more to come in Part 2).

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
(based on The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares)

The ultimate friendship movie – lots of falling in love, making mistakes, growing up, family drama and, of course, being there for your friends no matter what. I have watched this movie many times and I’ll probably watch it many more.

Sisterhood Traveling Pants movie pic

Room
(based on Room by Emma Donoghue)

This movie was amazing and really brought the book to life. It was one of those movies that you keep thinking about long after you’ve watched it. There were several intense scenes where I was on the edge of my seat, hoping everything would work out. I’m thinking particularly of the scenes of Jack in the truck and Jack talking to the police officer. The mother-child bond and chemistry between Ma (Brie Larson) and Jack (Jacob Tremblay) was so evident on the screen.

Room movie

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
(based on Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins)

This was my absolute favourite adaptation of the series; I could watch it over and over. There were so many intense and emotional scenes. It has all the best of the first Hunger Games: the reaping, the training, the interviews with Caesar Flickerman, and of course the actual Games. But added to that is the growing tension of unrest and rebellion in the districts, the twist of the Quarter Quell, and the additional twist at the end – the realization that there’s a bigger plan being orchestrated.

Catching Fire gif

The Spectacular Now
(based on The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp)

I haven’t read the book that the movie is based on, so I can’t speak to whether it’s a good or accurate adaptation. However, the movie itself was really good. It felt very realistic, with top-notch acting – it seemed as though the characters weren’t performing from a script at all but simply coming up with things to say as they went along, as you would in real life. They stumbled over words and talked over each other. They did things that made you want to shake them, scream at them, ask them what the hell they were doing. This movie is not a glossy, polished Hollywood blockbuster; it demonstrates the messy, imperfectness of life.

The Spectacular Now gif

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
(based on – what else – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling)

Sometimes I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with these movies. It’s certainly awesome to see Hogwarts and the Harry Potter universe come to life on the big screen. On the other hand, some of the movies bug me, whether because they leave out so many details or even whole scenes that would’ve been amazing to watch or because they miss the boat in some way. I recently re-read the fourth and fifth Harry Potter books and then re-watched the fourth and fifth movies and I felt this way about those adaptations. But despite all this, I couldn’t NOT put Harry Potter on the list. I mean, come on. That’s why I chose the very first one. I quite like this one as an adaptation; it’s where everything begins and I think it captures the, well, magicalness of the magical world. We are introduced to that world along with Harry, and we’re just as much in awe as he is. Plus, who can resist baby-faced Dan, Rupert, and Emma?

Harry Potter trio

 

Harry Potter gif letters

 

More coming in Part 2!

What are some of your favourite book to movie adaptations?

Re-Reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Rowling Harry Potter 5

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is not my favourite book in the series. This may be because I don’t feel it has as much of a compelling and overarching mystery that makes you want to keep reading, at least not to the same degree that some of the other books do. Like in The Chamber of Secrets, you’re wondering, “Who has opened the Chamber of Secrets? Who is the heir of Slytherin? Why do students keep getting petrified?” And in The Goblet of Fire, it’s all about “Who put Harry’s name into the Goblet of Fire and why? What will the next task be?” etc. In some ways, OotP seems like a book that is setting up for the rest of the series: the political environment, the climax, how neither Harry nor Voldemort “can live while the other survives” and the implications of that. That said, it’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, because I did. It started out slow but picked up somewhere around the middle and became more interesting, and I flew through the last 200 pages or so with much more enthusiasm. Continue reading “Re-Reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”

Re-Reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Rowling Harry Potter 4

The Quidditch World Cup! House elf liberation! The Triwizard Tournament and other magical schools! Malfoy as a ferret! Portkeys! Yule Ball drama!

Even though I’ve read this one multiple times, it’s been at least six years since I last read it and it was so amazing. I had a massive book hangover and didn’t want to read something new. What is it about these books that even when things are bad, they feel cozy, and when I finish I feel like I’m leaving behind friends. That’s rare; I don’t get that with many books, and I read a lot.

Harry Potter gif world cup

In this book I could feel Harry’s anxiety and dread about the next task and what he might have to face, his elation when the task’s over and all went well and he doesn’t have to think about the next one for months, his guilt over Cedric’s death.

I just can’t get over how immense and detailed the wizarding world is, AND all the clues and hints J.K. Rowling dropped regarding future events. She alludes to the Room of Requirement and horcruxes, for example. The whole series is like an intricate puzzle with millions of pieces, and in the end Rowling fits them all together just so. I think that’s part of why this series is so fun to re-read, because you can go back and see how the puzzle fits together after you’ve seen the end result.

Every time I read the fourth book, I think about Dumbledore’s portrayal in the movie and in particular the infamous “Harry did you put your name in the Goblet of Fire?” scene and I just cringe and cringe and cringe. Dumbledore is supposed to be calm, serene, composed, eccentric. Look at this description of him from Wikipedia: “He almost constantly gives off an aura of serenity and composure, rarely displaying intense emotions of anger or fear.” Why couldn’t he have been portrayed that way in the movies? Why was the Goblet of Fire scene in particular so off the mark?

Harry Potter gif gof

Tear Factor

I actually got teary on two different occasions. The first was when Harry, Ron, and Hermione banged on Hagrid’s door, shouting that they don’t care if he’s half-giant, they still like him and want to know him. It was just such a lovely example of true-blue friends who stick by and stand up for each other no matter what.

The second was when Harry was in the hospital wing after the whole ordeal of the third task and what happened after, and he’s on the verge of tears because he feels like it’s his fault that Cedric died, since Harry was the one who suggested they both take the Triwizard Cup. And then Molly gave him a huge hug, the likes of which Harry can’t remember ever receiving in his life, and I just wanted to cry over all Harry has been through, not only on the night of the third task (which would have been enough on its own!) but also during his whole life.

Favourite Quotes (more like scenes – the bantering and dialogue are top-notch in this one)

“Mr. Weasley, it’s Harry … the fireplace has been blocked up. You won’t be able to get through there.”
“Damn!” said Mr. Weasley’s voice. “What on earth did they want to block up the fireplace for?”
“They’ve got an electric fire,” Harry explained.
“Really?” said Mr. Weasley’s voice excitedly. “Ecklectic, you say? With a 
plug? Gracious, I must see that … let’s think … ouch, Ron!”
Ron’s voice now joined the others’.
“What are we doing here? Has something gone wrong?”
“Oh, no, Ron,” came Fred’s voice, very sarcastically. “No, this is exactly where we wanted to end up.”
“Yeah, we’re having the time of our lives here,” said George, whose voice sounded muffled, as though he was squashed against the wall.

(and basically the whole chapter of the Weasleys arriving at Privet Drive to take Harry to the Quidditch World Cup – pure gold. That would have been HILARIOUS if it was in the movie!)

“Well, I certainly don’t,” said Percy sanctimoniously. “I shudder to think what the state of my in-tray would be if I was away from work for five days.”
“Yeah, someone might slip dragon dung in it again, eh, Perce?” said Fred.
“That was a sample of fertilizer from Norway!” said Percy, going very red in the face. “It was nothing personal!”
“It was,” Fred whispered to Harry as they got up from the table. “We sent it.”

But Ron was staring at Hermione as though suddenly seeing her in a whole new light.
“Hermione, Neville’s right — you 
are a girl….”
“Oh well spotted,” she said acidly.

“Who’re you going with, then?” said Ron.
“Angelina,” said Fred promptly, without a trace of embarrassment.
“What?” said Ron, taken aback. “You’ve already asked her?”
“Good point,” said Fred. He turned his head and called across the common room, “Oi! Angelina!”
Angelina, who had been chatting with Alicia Spinnet near the fire, looked over at him.
“What?” she called back.
“Want to come to the ball with me?”
Angelina gave Fred a sort of appraising look.
“All right, then,” she said, and she turned back to Alicia and carried on chatting with a bit of a grin on her face.
“There you go,” said Fred to Harry and Ron, “piece of cake.”

He therefore had to endure over an hour of Professor Trelawney, who spent half the lesson telling everyone that the position of Mars in relation to Saturn at that moment meant that people born in July were in great danger of sudden, violent deaths.
“Well, that’s good,” said Harry loudly, his temper getting the better of him, “just as long as it’s not drawn-out, I don’t want to suffer.”

Read my thoughts on The Order of the Phoenix here.

 

2016 YA Releases I Can’t Wait to Read

2016 is shaping up to be a great year for YA releases; many of my favourite authors have interesting, intriguing, clever, and/or fun new releases coming out. It’s always awesome when some of your favourites have new books being released, because you know you’re almost guaranteed a good read. This list of five 2016 YA releases consists almost entirely of authors I’ve read before, except for #5.

Altebrando The Leaving

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando
(release date: June 7, 2016)

Tara Altebrando always seems to incorporate interesting and original concepts into her stories, whether it’s the history of Coney Island and carnival sideshows in Dreamland Social Club, or the contrast between the fakery of Las Vegas attractions and their real-life European counterparts in What Happens Here. It will be interesting to see her tackle thriller/suspense.

Caletti Essential Maps

Essential Maps for the Lost by Deb Caletti
(release date: April 5, 2016)

I will read anything Deb Caletti writes. End of story. I love her prose, and she has a way of perfectly capturing certain feelings and incorporating little details to make a story feel so real. Her newest has secrets and falling in love and tragedy and depression and alternating perspectives, and somehow incorporates the children’s novel From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (which I never got around to reading when I was younger, but maybe Caletti’s latest will inspire me to check it out).

Arnold Kids of Appetite

Kids of Appetite by David Arnold
(release date: Sept. 20, 2016)

David Arnold’s first book, Mosquitoland, was amazing, so I’m excited for his sophomore release. According to his websiteKids of Appetite is about:

1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.

2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.

3. One dormant submarine.

4. Two songs about flowers.

5. Being cool in the traditional sense.

6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.

7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.

8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.

9. A story collector.

10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.

11. Falling in love with a painting.

12. Falling in love with a song.

13. Falling in love.

I can definitely say I’m intrigued.

Yovanoff Places no one

Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff
(release date: May 17, 2016)

Brenna Yovanoff’s books can be strange in a good way, and this looks like no exception. I devoured her book Paper Valentine, which is less paranormal/horror/fantasy than her other books (genres which are not really my thing). Places No One Knows is apparently like this as well – more contemporary realistic with some elements of magical realism and fantasy. It involves dreams and waking up in other people’s dreams and connecting and sharing parts of yourself with another.

Cavallaro A study in Charlotte

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
(release date: March 1, 2016)

Just recently I got into watching BBC’s Sherlock. I’m super late to the game, I know, and I have no idea why. It’s so totally my thing: mysteries, clever deductions, sometimes snarky dialogue… I mean, I grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries and playing Nancy Drew computer games. I wanted to be a detective, and had a magnifying glass and a spyscope for peering around corners! I had a notepad where I could record clues and suspects! Anyway, all of this is to say that I’m looking forward to A Study in Charlotte. It’s a sort of modern re-telling of Sherlock Holmes in which Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson are the descendants of Sherlock and Watson, respectively. They attend a Connecticut prep school and of course there is a suspicious death and much investigating and many twists and turns, I’m sure.