Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory

“The Impossible Knife of Memory,” by Laurie Halse Anderson. The Goodreads summary:
For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.
I really like Laurie Halse Anderson’s books, at least those that I’ve read so far. I like how she doesn’t shy away from difficult topics. I mean, I enjoy light and fluffy as much as the next person, but sometimes I need a book that feels a little more honest. And Anderson’s books are definitely brutally honest.

I’m actually not sure how to really go about writing a review for this book. So much of the story revolves around Hayley’s dad’s PTSD and how it affects pretty much every aspect of their lives. It was just so intense and painful to read about that I don’t know how to review that aspect of it. So that only really leaves me with Hayley’s other relationships to talk about.

Her best friend, Gracie, was one of those types of friends that crop up in YA, where I’m just like, “Why are you even friends with this person?” I can sympathize with Gracie for having her own screwed up home life, but she and Hayley never really seemed to have any actual friend chemistry.

Hayley’s relationship with Finn was pretty adorable, though. I was just so glad that Hayley found someone in her pretty crappy life that made her happy. Finn was just so . . . buoyant. Whenever Hayley tried to push him down or keep him away he just bounced right back up. I did feel like the author tried a little too hard to give Finn complicated family drama; it just always felt a little forced and not like a real part of the story.

Hayley’s relationship with Trish was one that I wish we could’ve spent more time on. It just had so much potential. As Hayley’s dad’s stateside girlfriend, Trish was never supposed to be Hayley’s mother figure, but then she was . . . until she just walked away, for which Hayley understandably has never forgiven her. And though I feel like Anderson did a good job with their relationship in the time allotted to it as a secondary part of the plot, I wish more time could’ve been spent there because the dynamics fascinated me.

Hayley herself was so strong, if a little rough around the edges and abrasive. Her situation seems impossible, but she deals with it in the best way she knows how. It was hard to watch her constantly push people away and keep them out, but it just made those times she does let people in all the more satisfying for the reader.

Overall, like Anderson’s other books I’ve read, this one was intense but worth the read.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Monday, January 12, 2015

Review: Mortal Heart

“Mortal Heart” (His Fair Assassins #3), by Robin LaFevers. The Goodreads summary:
Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn't mean she has...
I’d heard from multiple people that this third book wasn’t as good as the first two, so I went into it with fairly low expectations. But, well, I liked it. Okay, so yes, I didn’t like it as much as the second book, because “Dark Triumph” is sheer awesomeness, but all things considered, I enjoyed the third book quite a bit.

Annith was admittedly a little difficult for me to connect to. But then again, I didn’t really connect to Ismae from the first book either. That’s one thing about this series: usually, in books if I can’t relate to the main character, the odds of me liking the book are pretty much shot. But in this series, not connecting to the main characters doesn’t really seem to hold me back. Probably because there’s so much plot going on and I’m too concerned about the fate of the kingdom and whatnot to get hung up on Annith being a bit whiney or whatever.

You know what this book has going for it? Aside from the fact that it wraps up the series and finally gives some closure? Balthazar. I just really loved Balthazar. I do wish we could’ve spent more time with him and his Hellequin, though, because obviously the Hellequin are pure awesome, and you get the feeling there are some good stories there. Like Misere (I’m pretty sure I just misspelled that, but oh well)—he was a promising character if I’ve ever seen one, but we don’t get to spend much time with him. But still. Balthazar. He makes up for a lot.

As for how things all wrap up? I’m going to be vague here to avoid spoilers, but though I was happy everything worked out, I thought the ultimate solution to the kingdom’s problem ended up being kinda anticlimactic. I felt a bit like, “Really? After all the political scheming and battles, THAT’S going to be what saves everyone?” I still got the resolution I needed; it just wasn’t quite as dramatic as I was expecting.

Overall, while the book isn’t perfect, I still enjoyed it and thought it was a pretty decent ending to the series.

Rating: 4 / 5

Other books in the series:
Grave Mercy
Dark Triumph

Thursday, January 1, 2015

It's already a happy new year!


YOU GUYS. One of my favorite romance novels OF ALL TIME is back in print as of today! I've read my second-hand copies to the point where the binding is basically gone, and now I can get not only a fresh print copy, but a copy on my Kindle too. Words can't even.

So which book is it you ask? "With This Ring," by Carla Kelly. Just read it. But ignore the new cover. The story's clean too, if that is an issue for you with romance novels. I'm just, just . . . AHHHH so happy. I basically thought this day would never come.

January is turning out to be a good month for anticipated books. "First Frost," by Sarah Addison Allen, is coming out on the 20th and "The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy," by Julia Quinn, is out the 27th!
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