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

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set During the Summer

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is “Books with X Setting.” I decided to go with a summertime setting. At first I was debating doing books set at summer camp or at a beach house or by the ocean, but what they all have in common is that they’re set during the summer.

What is it about books and summertime settings that seem to go so well together? There’s something about the freedom from studying and annoying teachers and locker drama and finding someone to sit with at lunch. The longer days, the sleeping-in, the late nights or all-nighters. You’re free to have new experiences, meet new people, travel, and figure out who you are. These books capture those summers where anything can and does happen, when you start to see things – or people – differently, when you go outside your comfort zone.

The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen: Sarah Dessen is the queen of summer YA novels. I could have chosen a number of her novels, but I decided on this one. It’s a summer of change and discovery for Macy, featuring romance, quirky workers and the chaos of catering jobs, and dealing with grief.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares: Another ultimate summer read. Four friends spend their summer apart – one in Greece, one in Baja California, one in South Carolina, and one at home – experiencing love and loss, staying connected through their magical pair of jeans.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han: Belly spends her summers at a beach house with her family and family friends Susannah, Jeremiah, and Conrad. But this particular summer is different: she starts to see things differently – and maybe Jeremiah and Conrad start to see her differently too. A cute, sweet read.

The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler: Jude Hernandez is spending her summer helping her dad restore his motorcycle and trying to avoid the charming Vargas brothers. There’s a sweet romance, three-dimensional characters, and lots of emotional moments involving family, memory, and her dad’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson: A sad, realistic novel about a girl who is dealing with her dad’s diagnosis and grief, while also navigating relationships with her former best friend and former boyfriend, and learning how to be confident and not run away from everything.

Peaches by Jodi Lynn Anderson: Three totally different girls spend their summer working at a peach farm in Georgia. Full of friendship, vignettes about the girls’ family and history of the town, and a little bit of magic.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: The synopsis states: “A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth.” And if you haven’t read it, that’s all you need to know, don’t read anything else about it, just read the book.

The Summer of Firsts and Lasts by Terra Elan McVoy: Three sisters encounter crushes, heartbreak, bullying, sneaking out, and other shenanigans at summer camp. Ultimately it’s about the bond between sisters.

 

Do you like books set during summer? What other settings do you like? Leave me a comment 🙂

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.”

Review: You Know Me Well

LaCour Levithan You know me wellTitle: You Know Me Well

Author: Nina LaCour and David Levithan

Published: June 7, 2016

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is, until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other—and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, You Know Me Well is a story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

I love both David Levithan’s and Nina LaCour’s writing, so I thought this collaboration would be a perfect pairing. It ended up being not my favourite David Levithan collaboration, but it was still a good read. It’s a great novel to read during Pride Week as it’s set in San Francisco and features Pride festivities. There are a lot of coming out YA novels; this one is more about what happens after. I could definitely feel the passion and excitement of the characters at the end when they were embracing who they are, celebrating, and heading to the parade.

The characters, especially Katie, were very relatable. In particular, this book absolutely nailed a few things: running away from opportunities because you’re scared or because you think you’re not good enough or don’t deserve them, and pushing away someone you really like because you want to hold onto the idea of them and don’t want to ruin things – and you can’t ruin them if nothing’s begun.

At first I was a bit disappointed in how Mark’s storyline ended, or maybe I was just sad for him. At the same time, I liked that the novel didn’t end with everyone getting together with the person they liked. It can still be a happy ending without everyone pairing off in romantic couples. Plus it felt more realistic that way.

It was nice to have a novel focus on a platonic male-female relationship – in particular, a friendship that wasn’t toxic or dysfunctional, just a friendship where the two of them are there for each other, pushing each other to go after what they want, supporting each other through bad times, understanding each other in ways that other people don’t or can’t.

Favourite Quotes:

“And when I begin to worry that I chose the wrong college, or that my future roommate will hate me, or that I’m going to grow up and forget about the things I once loved – cobalt blue, this certain hill behind my high school, searching for old slides at flea markets, the song “Divided” – I think about Violet.”

“Because we lose it. We grow up and we lose ourselves. Sometimes when my favorite songs are on I have to stop what I’m doing and lie down on my carpet and just listen. I feel every word they’re singing. Every note. And to think that in twenty years, or ten years, or five, even, I might hear those same songs and just, like, bob my head or something is horrible. Then I’m sure I’ll think that I know more about life, but it isn’t true. I’ll know less.”

“And we step off the curb, all of us together, as if to say, Here we come – through hard days and good ones, through despair and through exhilaration, in love and out of love, for just now or for forever. Here we come. It’s our parade.”

You might also like: any of David Levithan’s collaborations – Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares (all with Rachel Cohn), Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), and other David Levithan books – Two Boys Kissing, How They Met and Other Stories, Boy Meets Boy, The Realm of Possibility + + check out Nina LaCour if you haven’t – The Disenchantments is a personal favourite!

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?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set Outside the US

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is “Ten Books Set Outside The US.” Here are my picks!

Kephart One thing stolen

1. One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart (Italy)

Set in Florence, Italy, this was a beautifully written book about a girl whose mental state and capacity for communication seem to be strangely diminishing. The book follows her as she travels around Florence, searching for an elusive Italian boy and gathering strange objects, and tries to figure out what’s happening to her.

Hingston dilettantes

2. The Dilettantes by Michael Hingston (Canada)

This book is set at Simon Fraser University in BC, Canada, is written by an SFU graduate, and I was reading it while I was attending SFU myself, so that was pretty cool. Two editors of The Peak, SFU’s campus newspaper, are trying to save the paper amidst approaching graduation, a free daily paper coming to campus and stealing readers, a Hollywood star returning to finish his degree, film shoots on campus, and lots of absurdity. It was hilarious and full of smart and funny observations about college life, and some inside jokes about SFU campus life specifically.

Forman just one year

3. Just One Year by Gayle Forman (Amsterdam + Mexico, India)

This is the sequel/companion novel to Just One Day, and it’s told from the perspective of Willem as he returns to his home in Amsterdam, and then travels around to places like Mexico and India, all the while searching for a girl he knows only as Lulu and growing as a person. Lots of lovely descriptions and beautiful passages.

Marchetta looking for alibrandi

4. Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta (Australia)

Melina Marchetta is amazing and this is her classic coming-of-age novel about Josephine Alibrandi, an Italian-Australian teenager who learns about and navigates school, friendships and relationships, family, and her heritage. If you haven’t read any of Melina Marchetta’s novels, do it now!

Montgomery Anne of Green Gables

5. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery (Canada)

This is where my interest in Prince Edward Island began. One of these days I will get there and I will visit the real Green Gables!

Teller Nothing

6. Nothing by Janne Teller (Denmark)

In a small Danish town, a seventh-grade boy decides that nothing means anything, so he climbs a tree and refuses to come down. His classmates try to convince him that things do have meaning, and to do so they resort to increasingly shocking and extreme measures. To be honest, I don’t recall if I actually enjoyed this book, but I don’t necessarily think it’s the type of book you’re supposed to enjoy. I think it’s supposed to be unusual and thought-provoking and a little bit twisted, and if that was the goal, then it definitely succeeded.

Kephart Going Over

7. Going Over by Beth Kephart (Germany)

This book is set in 1980s Berlin. Two teenagers are in love, stuck on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall. Full of lovely, literary writing, it provides a glimpse into a historical time period.

Giordano solitude prime numbers

8. The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano (Italy)

A prime number can only be divided by one or itself; special primes are prime numbers like 13 and 15 that are close but still separate. The two main characters, Alice and Mattia, are called twin primes because they too are close yet still remain lonely and isolated. This book is certainly not a happy read; it was rather bleak and depressing at times, but not in a bad way, if that makes sense. It was an interesting concept and very well-written.

Nilsson heart's delight

9. Heart’s Delight by Per Nilsson (Sweden)

A book about first love and first heartbreak. Over the course of a night, a boy assembles a random assortment of objects, including a potted plant, a grammar book, condoms, and a movie ticket, and decides he must get rid of them. As he tosses each item out the window or into the garbage chute, we find out that each has some significance in his relationship with his heart’s delight and learn what happened in this relationship.

Van de Ruit Spud

10. Spud by John van de Ruit (South Africa)

I confess that I haven’t actually read this, but it’s on my list! It’s about a boy who starts at a boys-only boarding school in South Africa, and according to the blurb, it is apparently full of “illegal midnight swims, raging hormones, and catastrophic holidays that will leave the entire family in total hysterics and thirsty for more.” It sounds hilarious. Plus, I just found out there’s a movie adaptation, and Troye Sivan plays Spud!

 

Have you read any of these? What books set outside of the US have you read?

 

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”