Sunday, 18 March 2012

A Step from Heaven by An Na

This is such a beautiful book. The voice is so clear, and it really puts you into the head of a small child who's confused about her move to America. The title of this book comes from a cute scene where Young Ju is convinced that America is Heaven and she is told that it's not quite Heaven, but a step from it. She tries very hard to fit in once she's in America, which is difficult because she doesn't speak much English. Not only that, but her family is very poor and her father sometimes beats her mother. The way her character grows from the first chapter to the last would make me cry, if I was a crier. Some parts of the book are just so simply profound you just want to sit there and think about the last few sentences you read. The book is short, but a perfect length for the story it wants to convey. There are no filler scenes- I can promise you that! Each chapter has a wonderful title. My favourite (chapter, not title, but the title's nice too!) is Strong Like a Man, featuring Young Ju's brother trying to follow his father's example of what it means to be strong. This is a wonderful read that won't take you very long to get through, but you'll end up rereading it many times just to glean some more of it's moving messages.

If you loved this book, you'll like:

Pretty much anything. I can't see how you wouldn't like this book, to be honest. But there's no book that I've read so far that's like it.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

This book pulled me through it in record time. Just like the first book of this series, Hush, Hush, it's intense, thrilling, and moves at a breakneck speed.

Nora is now dating Patch and she thinks her life is just about perfect, but after a mysterious turn of events, she starts seeing him more and more with Marcie. They fight about it, and Nora dumps him. Now without the protection of her guardian angel, she has to figure out what's happening in her life. She keeps hearing her dad beckoning her, but she's not sure whether to believe her ears. One thing's for sure, though- his death had something to do with this world of angels and Nephilim. And then there's Scott, dangerous and secretive, who has recently moved to Coldwater- to escape his past.

When I read the book, I accepted everything wholeheartedly. But now that I think back on it, there were some things that irked me. First of all, Nora got mopey. It wasn't that bad, but it got a little Twilight-y when she started doing reckless things just to get his attention. Also, she was unreasonable and stupid at times, and I kind of resented how a lot of the book seemed to be about her getting over the breakup. That aside, I think Becca Fitzpatrick missed out on developing some characters in this book. She kept hinting that perhaps there was another side to Marcie, but then she'd destroy it by making Marcie do something cruel. I wanted to see the reason why Marcie is so insecure, and why she takes it out on Vee and Nora, but I never did. But the biggest problem with the characters is the way Nora treats Vee. In the first book it was okay, but in this one Vee is portrayed as dumb and girly. Their dialogue is mainly Nora whining and Vee talking about bikinis or her newest diet. Vee looked, quite frankly, pathetic. And Nora treated her like someone who was just there to give her rides, not like a friend. She was condescending at times, drifting off during Vee's stories about her dieting, like she was so special and mature just because she's involved with the angels. At one point, she 'forgives' Vee in her mind for being annoying because she's still a good friend. Annoying? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

Now for what I liked about the book. Characters aside, the plot was really gripping. I would say even more so than the first book. Lots of different questions were brought up, which I really liked. The suspense was masterfully done and I got chills at some of the scenes.

All in all, this book is darker than Hush, Hush. It's not quite as funny, and Patch isn't as charming (I always prefer the part where boy wins girl rather than boy loses girl). But the plot, suspense, and mystery is better, and it ends with a thunderclap. Silence, here I come!

If you loved this book, you'll like:

Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr
Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray