Wednesday, May 28, 2014

YA Wednesday: Memorial Book Review: Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers

Fallen AngelsFallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been meaning to read this book for years, and I'm so glad I finally did.

It started out a bit slow, but as the book went on, I realized that everything in it was intentional, even that slow start. It was like the war itself, or Perry's experience of it. He wasn't dropped in the middle of the action. His squad was eased into it. At first, not much is happening. He's kind of bored, which left me a little bored. But as tensions build in Vietnam, so do they build in the book. The first time Perry sees someone killed, he's shocked. By the end, the body count is so high you barely notice one person. He's lost so many, he doesn't even mention that first death he witnessed that upset him so much in the beginning. And yet, he never grows complacent, never grows hard to the death surrounding him.

The was this book was laid out was perfect. It starts slow, then builds to more and more dire situations as Perry and PeeWee are forced to confront mortality, their own and that of the enemy, towards the end. The saddest part for me was knowing that even when the book ended, so many were left still fighting, still dying, in Vietnam. There were several parts where I teared up from the intensity of the book. It was so real, I was there, I was in it with them, longing for The World. This book may have started slow, but it grabbed me by the throat about third of the way in and never let go. I loved the characters, all so different and so real. I could feel the intensity of their fear, their boredom, their panic, and especially, their bond with each other. 

A wonderful book. My favorite WDM book so far.

Content: Appropriate for Age 14+. M/F audiences will enjoy.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

YA Wednesday: #Book #Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & ParkEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

I know this book is on everyone's radar right now. It seems everyone is reading it. Insane how popular it's gotten all of a sudden--like Hunger Games explosion style.

I thought I would like this book more, since it's contemporary ya. I'm a little disappointed that I didn't fall madly in love with it like everyone else. I'm due for one of those reading experiences, but this one wasn't quite there.

The plot was alright, if a little slow. It just didn't go as deep as I would have liked. Also, becuse of the cover and synopsis, I thought there would be more 80s music themes in it. The journey was slow, but it progressed quickly enough that I was never bored, just a bit antsy for things to pick up. I loved how the relationship progressed at such a slow, natural rate. It was a sweet romance, nothing shocking or disturbing (between the two title characters), no one emotionally scarring or controlling the other, although Eleanor was manipulative through her constant need for drama and to be consoled. More on that below. Overall, I liked the realistic, teenage progression of their relationship.

On to the characters, since that's what this novel is all about. Park--wow. I fell madly, completely in love with his character. More accurately, I remember falling madly in love with a real person who was EXACTLY like his character, right down to his collection of comics and The Smiths cassettes. Maybe that's why I liked this character so much--he was as real to me as a real person. He was so completely honest/confused/flawed/good intentioned. Eleanor--well. Here's where the problem came in for me. It wasn't that I hated her character. She was sympathetic, and I felt sorry for her as her home life was so awful. But she seemed a little lacking in depth somehow. She just never came alive for me the way Park did, so that next to him, she felt a bit flat. Also, she was a very obnoxious character to read about. Realistic, yes, we all know that girl who can't stop causing drama and intentionally misunderstanding every little nit-picky thing a guy says so she can pick a fight. But I hate those people in real life, and it was hard to LIKE her as opposed to just pitying her.

The ending--everyone has focused on that for some reason, but it didn't bother me. I thought it was very realistic, and that's what I was looking for. I didn't mind not knowing the three words, as I came up with several things they could say and was happy with that.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Book Review: Sycamore Row by John Grisham

Sycamore Row (Trunk Edition)Sycamore Row by John Grisham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

Okay, I admit, this is only my second full John Grisham book (I listened to A Time To Kill last year, but found out later that it was the abridged version). I read A Painted House in college and adored it, but courtroom dramas aren't really my area of interest. I read this for a book club.

I have to say, I really enjoyed it (much more than A Time to Kill). I was glad I'd read the first book about Jake Brigance, but it's not necessary before reading this one, though it is mentioned many times in this book. Anyway, this one was slow-building but it got faster and faster towards the climax, where everything was tied together, even the seemingly random threads from the beginning.

I did have some questions about the logic of certain situations, and there were some extraneous bits that were never explained or elaborated that could have used explanation. And there were a few parts that dragged (jury selection...yawn). But overall, it was really interesting. I loved the characters, and having seen the movie "A Time To Kill" several times, I had all the characters pictured in my mind. Just loved Harry Rex in this one, and kind of want to get the unabridged of A Time To Kill now, just so I can get the whole picture. It wasn't nearly as exciting as this one, where everything is fleshed-out and just much more real.

I especially loved the bits of Southern culture that were so expertly done you might not even notice, like the way they always talk about football before bringing up what they really want to talk about. Being a Southern girl myself, I appreciate authentic Southern authors and the subtle touches they bring to their work.

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