Saturday, June 23, 2012

Review: When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman

Title: When God Was a Rabbit
Author: Sarah Winman
Publisher: Headline Review
Year of Release: 2011
ISBN: 9780755379309
Source: Purchased
Number of Pages: 324 
This is a book about a brother and a sister. 
It is a book about childhood and growing up, friendships and families, triumph and tragedy and everything in between.
More than anything, it's a book about love in all it's forms. 
Expanded over 4 decades, When God Was a Rabbit is a different, mesmerising, incredibly thought-provoking read. Refreshingly original, the story follows the life of Elly, from the time of her birth to her middle-aged life, the friendships she is able to form and the unshakable bonds she shares with her family, particularly her brother Joe. Winman has a way of seeing the world, a way she incorporates into her characters, that is so pure and true and beautiful. Even through the most horrific complications, Winman presents them to us with an air that is almost... magical. The problems are still there, of course, but it doesn't seem so terrible when you read through her eyes. It's imaginative and, comforting, in a way. You are not alone. 
Elly's childhood innocence is observed with emotional acuity and precision. She knows not of the hardships of life, the hurt of a broken heart, the experience of how two best friends can so suddenly become strangers under the influence of distance and time. But gradually and eventually the cold hard truth of life catches up with her, killing her innocent essence and unveiling the things that will later cause her to regret the desperation of growing up. Sarah Winman's experimental nature is evident in the way she approaches her writing, her creation and development of characters and the sense that she is not afraid to try something new, to stand out and be different from other authors. She presents herself in the book with a sense of righteousness and it feels as though you are right there in the story, perceiving everything in your own way.
It includes an array of interesting, individual characters that are relevant to society today- homosexuals, prisoners, cancer patients- they're all there. It is one of the most thought-provoking books I have ever read. 
What attracted me most to this book in the first place was, not only the many positive recommendations, but the unique and compelling title. The time when God was a rabbit was the peak of childhood innocence. And although unclear at times with no real story-line or plot, the whimsical characters and string of events that act as a backdrop to a peaceful family, are unlike any book I have encountered before. Somehow, it always comes down to one thing. Love, in all of it's forms. Winman's soft, narrative voice guides you through a perfectly woven web of life, gently annotating the good and bad parts in a way that is both beautiful and precise.
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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Review: The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead

Title: The Golden Lily
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razor Bill
Year of Release: 2012
ISBN: 9781921518478
Source: Purchased
Number of Pages: 418
Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she's been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California- tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins. Formerly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist. 
But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie, and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her old-age Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and the sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi- the fiercest vampires, the ones who don't die. But it's her fear of being just that- special, magical, powerful- that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with cute, brainy Brayden. As perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else- someone forbidden to her.
When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney's loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she's supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she's been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her. 
Should she trust the Alchemists- or her heart?
As soon as my mother came home Tuesday evening bearing a freshly printed copy of The Golden Lily, my heart skipped a beat. As many of my friends and family members are well aware of, I am a huge fan of the Vampire Academy franchise. I am even proudly responsible for converting a few people into fans of the books. After reading Bloodlines early last year, it was a long time coming for the second installment to this highly anticipated book. For those of you who aren't aware, the Bloodlines books are a spin-off series from the original Vampire Academy series. Fans will undoubtedly be aware of these books- Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound and Last Sacrifice. These six books all have the status of being international best-sellers and I am pretty sure they were all on the New York Times Bestseller list. The Bloodlines books take a much different approach from the original series, a risk that won out in the end. Readers have the pleasure of reading the story from the point of view of Sydney Sage. She's an Alchemist, a human who's job is to bridge the world between vampires and humans. Controlled and restrained by a lily tattoo on her cheek, Sydney belongs to the society of the Alchemists and this tattoo gives them complete control over her life. Where she goes, whom she works with and how long. 
She realized this only too late- the Alchemists own her. Her beliefs dictate every decision she has ever made. Alchemists are taught to not get too close to vampires- Moroi, Strigoi or Dhampirs. But her new vampire friends have become something of a family to her, much to her dismay, and it hurts her to know that she can never truly give in to these feelings of belonging, for fear of being disgraced by her Alchemist superiors. Fighting conflicted feelings, Sydney knows all too well what her duty is- protect Jill Dragomir. And that is exactly what she will do.
I have always thought that it is not so much the story-lines Richelle Mead creates- though those are brilliant- it is the characters she manages to incorporate and portray so well. Their individual personalities, charisma and many upon many witty lines, these characters truly make the stories the amazing works that they so are. Adrian Ivashkov is a perfect example. He is witty, charming, attractive, and I'm sure all female readers feel drawn to him. (Don't worry, I do too!) His reputation given to us when we are first introduced to him in Frostbite shows an arrogant, sarcastic, rich, sleazy, taking everything for granted party boy. Not to mention how many women he goes through. But later on, we see that there is more to him than the limits of his reputation. He is just trying to break out of a cage that society has locked him in, free of any redeeming qualities and deeming that he will never be useful for anything. 
So aside from the amazingly complex list of wonderfully admirable characters, The Golden Lily was incredibly funny (no thanks to Adrian) and I found myself laughing aloud so many times and so uncontrollably that I was actually rendered to setting the book down. (Gasp!) I shamelessly devoted 10 hours of my Saturday to reading this book. 
I can assure you that if you are a fan, you will not be disappointed by The Golden Lily. Richelle, how long are we going to have to wait this time for the next one?
Links; - The official website for the Bloodlines series. - The official website for Richelle Mead.
You can find my review on Bloodlines somewhere in the 2011 part of my archive, if you're interested. I promise you, it's not nearly as long as this one. :)

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Review: Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick

Title: Silence
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Year of Release: 2011
ISBN: 978-0-85707-228-3
Number of Pages: 438 
The noise between Patch and Nora is gone. They've overcome their secrets, riddled in Patch's dark past, bridged two irreconcilable worlds and faced heart-wrenching tests of betrayal, loyalty and trust. All for a love that will transcend the boundary between heaven and earth. Armed with nothing but their absolute faith in one another, Patch and Nora enter a desperate fight to stop a villain who holds the power to shatter everything they've worked for -and their love- forever. What a great read. Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick ticks all the boxes- thrilling? Check. Suspenseful? Check. Captivating? Check. No need to say more, this book didn't let down, and definitely exceeds the expectations of fans of the Hush, Hush series. 
We see a different side of Patch in this book. The side of him that will sacrifice anything- even himself- to save the woman he loves. Their love is put to the test in ways that cannot be explained, but somehow, even after everything they have been through so far, things get even more challenging. 
Cannot wait for the next book! The ending was magnificent and leaves you in a suspense that  hurts when you think about the decisions Patch and Nora will be forced to make. Sexy and incredibly seductive, Silence is the perfect romance novel displaying an impossible love made even more difficult by their heritages. 
A phrase I said often while reading this one: "OH. MY. GOD." Those who have read it will understand, I'm sure. I recommend this series highly and please comment your opinions below!