Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on June 19th 2012
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When Travis returns home from a stint in Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother’s stolen his girlfriend and his car, and he’s haunted by nightmares of his best friend’s death. It’s not until Travis runs into Harper, a girl he’s had a rocky relationship with since middle school, that life actually starts looking up. And as he and Harper see more of each other, he begins to pick his way through the minefield of family problems and post-traumatic stress to the possibility of a life that might resemble normal again. Travis’s dry sense of humor, and incredible sense of honor, make him an irresistible and eminently lovable hero.
Something Like Normal is a beautiful read: raw and unflinchingly honest. While I’m writing my review (roughly an hour after having finished the book) I don’t quite know what to do with myself. There’s this feeling inside me that took root when I started reading Something Like Normal and kept growing and growing while reading and I feel like it’s about to burst right now. This book is under my skin, and managed to secure a special place in my heart. THAT’s how beautiful this book was.
I love how this book isn’t about patriotism or politics. Simply put Something Like Normal is a story about people. Trish Dollar doesn’t turn her characters into saints, they’re flawed like any person is, and that is exactly the thing that makes this story so realistic. I care about the people in this book: about Travis and his friends, I laughed at their antics, and felt for them and what they were going through. Besides that, it’s incredibly realistic in the way the characters talk. She doesn’t water down their language use. We’re talking about 19 year old males here (besides the fact that they’re soldiers), and what guy our age doesn’t swear or say stupid shit? Like I said before, the characters aren’t saints, they’re flawed, and that includes them using the word “fuck” and them calling each other names.
Travis is struggling to hold himself together after losing his best friend in the war. He struggles with his grief and guilt, and it becomes so very clear that while he’s home, in some respects, he is very much still at war and Trish doller did a wonderful job at describing Travis’ emotional state. Throughout the story he develops his relationship with his mother, which made me want to cry at times. The way Trish Doller wrote about Travis’ mother and the desperation she felt over her son going to war was so palpable. I think she represented that in a great and (again) very realistic way.
Something Like Normal was quite the devastating, but most of all incredibly moving story with a flawed but appealing main character. I feel like everything I said in this review has been said by others already, but if this is your first time hearing about this book then please take my word and do yourself the favor of reading this book. I promise you that it won’t dissapoint.
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm #1
Published by Gollancz on January 22nd 2009
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic
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In a world where people born with an exceptional skill, known as a Grace, are both feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing.
Feared by the court and shunned by those her own age, the darkness of her Grace casts a heavy shadow over Katsa’s life. Yet she remains defiant: when the King of Lienid’s father is kidnapped she investigates, and stumbles across a mystery. Who would want to kidnap the old man, and why? And who was the extraordinary Graced man whose fighting abilities rivalled her own?
The only thing Katsa is sure of is that she no longer wants to kill. The intrigue around this kidnapping offers her a way out – but little does she realise, when she takes it, that something insidious and dark lurks behind the mystery. Something spreading from the shadowy figure of a one-eyed king...
Graceling now holds a special place among my favorite fantasy books. What a story! Magical powers, good and interesting plot, and great characters, what more can you ask for?! I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy after finishing Graceling and want to hug the book to my chest and never EVER let go again. I need more. This story could’ve gone on infinitely and I wouldn’t have cared, I just need MORE.
I have a new OTP, Katsa and Po were absolutely PERFECT together.
I absolutely ADORE Katsa and Po together. I love how they first became friends and then slowly their bond developed into much more. They had that special something, that spark, that makes for a beautiful romance. They are, well I can’t say adorable, because they’re both badass in their own way and they fight eachother (literally… they beat the crap out of eachother). They can because their graces allow them too, and it’s just EVERYTHING I look for in a romance. Their banter was the best. I LOVED it.
Katsa develops so freaking much throughout the story, it’s a beautiful thing to read about.
Katsa is a wonderfully complex character. Yes, she’s badass, but she’s so much more than that. She is intelligent and has this soft side that starts coming out more and more. She develops enormously throughout the story. She goes from the king’s lapdog to this strong and independent person that values justice above all else. She’s nowhere near perfect, but she’s courageous and not afraid to learn from her mistakes.
Po’s character was so damn refreshing. He’s cheerful and talkative and just so lovable!
Po, gosh I am in love with sweet Po. His grace allows him to fight a somewhat fair fight with Katsa on her level, and even though he got his ass handed to him plenty of times he was perfect. Absolutely perfect. I want my own Po, desperately. He’s cheerful and talkative and just so damn lovable. You have no idea how refreshing his character was. I love me a good and sexy bad boy, or a diamond in the rough, but I think we need more Po’s in literature (and in real life… swoons).
The plot was well thought out and unfolded at a very comfortable pace, with some great twists along the way.
The plot is basically this gigantic journey. The story follows Katsa and the journey she makes. I would have thought it would have some boring moments here and then, but I was fully enchanted with the story and writing. I COULDN’T stop reading. I loved the survival part of this story, it was interesting and made it even easier for me to admire Katsa’s strength and character. The plot was well thought out and unfolded at a very comfortable pace, with some great twists along the way.
Basically, I wish there was MORE.
I was looking at the synopsis for the sequel and noticed that it’s not neccesarily about Katsa, and part of me is sad about it. I loved her story so freaking much and I wish there was MORE. But on the other hand, I’m content with the way this story ended, and intrigued by the synopsis of the sequel. Graceling BLEW me away.
Graceling is one EPIC story. It has EVERYTHING you need in a story: an easy writing-style, engaging plot, great characters, and solid world-building. I just want more, more, and more. I sure hope we’ll see more of Katsa and Po in the future! I definitely need more Kristin Cashore as soon as possible!
The Falconer by Elizabeth May
Series: The Falconer #1
Published by Gollancz on September 26th 2013
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
She's a stunner.
Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.
She's a liar.
But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she's leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.
She's a murderer.
Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.
She's a Falconer.
The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother's murder—but she'll have to save the world first.
The Falconer is EVERYTHING and more. I loved every single second of this book, and I am dying to read more. Every since I read my first steampunk story I’ve been kinda intrigued and obsessed with the genre. The Falconer has steampunk AND faeries, a more perfect combination doesn’t exist, especially when the story is so perfectly executed.
Aileanna is as feisty and determined as they come, she’s a glorious protagonist (one I’d rather not have as my enemy)
The main character, Aileanna, takes badass to a whole new level. Since she witnessed a fae kill her mother she’s been thirsting for vengeance. Kieran, a powerful faery, trains her and gives her all the tools to kill all kinds of faeries. Her thirst of revenge has her on the very edges of morality, but with the memories of the brutal death of her mother plaguing her it is hard not to feel for her and be pulled into her mission. She’s as feisty and determined as they come, and loves tinkering with mechanics. Not just tinkering, she creates some seriously badass weapons. I love reading about all the things she creates, it’s what I LOVE so much about steampunk. I greatly admired her strength and the way she dealt, or rather struggled, with the expectations and conventions of society. People talking behind her back, she sneaking off during balls to kill a fae, it was all so intriguing. Gossip, nasty glares, and great fights, it’s glorious.
The chemistry, the banter, and slow burning realtionship get’s better and better every page
I also hava a serious new crush: Kieran. This guy is almost unreal, that’s how swoon-wrorthy he is (of course he isn’t human, so that might explain the ‘unrealness’ haha). It’s a bit of a process to get to that point, I was REALLY hesitant about him at first, but once I got over that WHAM I was a goner. And the romance is a slow burner. The chemistry, the banter, the slow burning realtionship that get’s better and better every page, I was fanning myself through all those scenes. LOVED it and I’m pretty sure, no I’m positive, I’m in love with Kieran.
Solid characters with great depth to them
All the secondary characters are solid. Aileanna’s pixie friend, Derick, made me giggle a lot. Then there’s Catherine, Aileanna’s best friend, and Gavin, her past crush, they are good characters with great depth to them, every single one of them.
I was sucked into the story from the very first page
The plot is good, VERY good. I loved learning more about the falconers, their history, and especially how this made Aileanna different from others. I was sucked into the story from the very first page. The Scottish setting and the Fearies made for an amazing story. Battles, bloodshed, Gossip. I am absolutely in love with every single aspect of The Falconer.
I love this book. I adore this book. I need the sequel. Kickass characters, an epic Scottish setting, steampunk, faeries, battles, bloodshed, upperclass society and gossip, The Falconer has everything you look for in an epic fantasy, more than everything even. It is a glorious book. A fair warning though, don’t start this book if you don’t have the sequel as well. I am lucky to have only read this book 8 days before the sequel releases, but I feel for all the people that have had to wait more than a year for it, because that ending is a KILLER.