Friday, 28 June 2013

Review: Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

Book: Wild Awake
Author: Hilary T. Smith
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Pages: 375 Pages
Format: Hardcover

Oh. My. God.

Goodreads Summary

Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:

1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen:

1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.

Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy

I don't know how to form my thoughts into words. I wasn't expecting what this book held for me. I don't even know what I was expecting, but what I got was so much better. This review comes to you in four parts:

Part 1; characters. Kiri Byrd is our protagonist and what a wonderful one she is. She is quirky and obsessive and she is filled with this sense of homesickness, or wanderlust, for the unknown (see the German word, Fernweh). In the beginning of the book, she discovers something about her sister's death that she never knew and that sets her off. This reminds me of something from Robyn Schneider, The Beginning of Everything, in the way that each person has a personal tragedy. The character of Skunk stood out in my mind also. He was just a kid who was really passionate. He loved with all his heart and he was protective of the people around him that he cared out. So what if he had a Thing? He put other people first.

Part 2; plot. Now when I first started to understand where this book was going, I was a little hesitant to say the least. It was not what I was really expecting, and that threw me off. I thought that this book would be more about her journey to get her sisters things, as it leads you to believe in the synopsis, but when things took a turn for the different, I knew that I was already in too deep to jump out.

Part 3; Writing. In my mind I keep saying that Hilary T. Smith is the Tahereh Mafi of contemporary, crafting prose like a seasoned professional. She writes with such incredible prose that at times I felt as high as Kiri. her writing simply carries you through the pages, making you lose track of how many have come and gone and how many are yet to arrive. As the book starts, her writing is more mainstream, very by the book, but as Kiri begins to break out and lose it, so does her writing. It gets more ecstatic, forcing the reader to look at things differently. A splatter of paint is now a life line and a radio is a connection. She has such amazing metaphors packed into her writing that I still feel as if I'm riding that high with Kiri, even after 11 hours of finishing it.

Part 4; themes. In Wild Awake Kiri explores the unknown in her own mind. She becomes her own person, wading through the murky waters of mental illness, love, life, and what it means to really be alive. I didn't know that the title could be so perfect for the story. Kiri is manic, compulsive, and so drunk with her own freedom that she is able to hurt herself. She is wild, and she gives a new meaning. She is the personification of wild, and her insomnia only adds to that.

Wild Awake has taken my breath away and with it my ability to properly form sentences. I was taken aback by this book, struck by beauty and meaning. I give this book a 6/5 stars, not because it deserves the extra star, but because it reached into my mind and stole it away. And I let it go.



Friday, 21 June 2013

Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Review: The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

Book: The Peach Keeper
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Publisher: Bantam
Pages:273 Pages
Format: Paperback

This was the final book by Sarah Addison Allen that I had to read. I expected great things from this book because it spoke of murder and family secrets and childhood romance, and I was excited. And as great as it was, it ended up being my least favourite of all of them.

It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots.
But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it.
For the bones—those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five years ago—are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town.
Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living.
Resonant with insight into the deep and lasting power of friendship, love, and tradition, The Peach Keeper is a portrait of the unshakable bonds that—in good times and bad, from one generation to the next—endure forever.
Sarah Addison Allen's writing was a shining light in this book. Her writing gets more and more beautiful the more I read her. She is able to place me into this wonderful world she has created with only the description of mocha brownies and peach trees. She has a true gift with words. And that was probably my favourite part about this entire novel. The imagery is spectacular and the way that she is able to write makes it seem like she is wielding words to fit her liking. And dear God do I want her powers.
Her characters were, as always great. They are strong in their own way and they have these weaknesses that make them relatable and more human than I've ever read about. Also, some of the characters from Garden Spells, my favourite of her books, showed up in this one and trust me, I got excited. Willa was an amazing protagonist, having great inner monologue and it was interesting to see how she made decisions and the reasoning behind it. Also, the grandmothers were hilarious and wonderful.
I really have nothing more to say about this one. I liked it, but it wasn't her best. It didn't have that spark that Sarah Addison Allen's other books had, but I still liked it. It was nothing like Garden Spells though. XD
4/5 stars.