PETER DARLING: A Book Review

When I first heard about this book, I laughed. I’m not laughing now.

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Okay, so, when I first found Peter Darling, I kind of laughed out loud when I read the premise. It sounded kind of ridiculous: a love story between Peter Pan and Captain Hook? What kind of book is that? Then I read the summary again and… wait. Peter is Wendy? I shook my head and closed the tab.

But then I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I had to read it.

The brilliance of Peter Darling is the idea that Peter Pan is the true identity of the boy the world insists on calling Wendy.  Trans Peter is absolutely beautiful, and makes complete sense in the world created within the pages, where Neverland is a refuge for the rejects and outcasts of the world. It’s the only place Peter felt like he could be Peter, and not Wendy everyone insisted he was. It’s beautiful. 

There’s so much that goes on within this short book. There’s this soft trans narrative, the pain of growing up and becoming who you really are, and, of course, the love story. Now. I was surprised with how delicately and naturally the love between Peter and Hook emerges. It feels genuine and sweet and honestly? I kind of love it. A lot.

Yes, this book is short, and that feels like its biggest flaw. While I would have loved more, at the same time, I’m glad it ends where it does. The pacing can be fast, but it still feels real. Nothing felt “sudden” or unexpected to me and I felt that what needed to be said was said, and said beautifully, within these short pages.

I shouldn’t be surprised that I loved Peter Darling, but I am. This book accomplished what every rewrite wishes to: it makes me few it as equivalent to the original, and potentially canon, too. Trans Peter is definitely a ship I’m hoping on; just call me captain.

4 fairies out of 5.

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NOWHERE NEAR YOU: A Book Review

Rendered speechless from this work of perfection.

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How do you review a book you consider absolutely perfect? Nowhere Near You is the sequel to Because You’ll Never Meet Me, one of my favourite novels. Now, BYNMM did not require a sequel: it ended in a way that felt satisfying and yet open, so the characters could live on in your mind. In fact, I loved the ending and praised it, even when those on Goodreads didn’t. Yet, when I saw Nowhere Near You in the store, I jumped around and clutched it to my chest, over-eager to read it.

Because You’ll Never Meet Me didn’t need a sequel, but I’m so glad it has one.

Nowhere Near You picks up right where the first left off and doesn’t miss a beat. It feels less like a sequel and more like a continuation. Everything I loved about the first carries on, and most of it is elevated. There’s so much more in this one: more love, more friendship, more mistakes, more mystery. More confusion. More hope. More heart.

I loved everything. I loved the plot. I love the adventure, and the secrets that creep in the corners of the pages. I love the mistakes Mo and Ollie make, and I love how their friendship evolves into something beyond. I love the new characters: every single one of them shines bright and is lovable in their own unique way.

I love the ending.

If I thought Because You’ll Never Meet Me ended perfectly, I was wrong. This is the ending Mo and Ollie deserve. I’m crying thinking about it.

Perfection, perfection, perfection.

This might be my favourite book of 2017.

Sorry this review was so lame. My heart is full of too much love and adoration to see any flaws this book might have.

There is nothing better than a satisfying ending to a beautiful story.

5 letters out of 5. 

PLANK’S LAW: A Book Review

*I was given an advance copy of this book through LibraryThing’s early reviewers program*

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There’s a lot to love about this little book by Lesley Choyce. The first thing is, in fact, because it’s so little: with less than 200 pages, Plank’s Law is a very quick read. It reminds me a lot of the books I used to find in my high school library. They were short and thus full of quick action in order to encourage students to read. I can definitely see this book fitting among them; because it’s short, there’s not a dull moment. Of course, this can be a problem too. Due to its length, it seems like a lot of major things happen way too fast. I feel like an extra 100 pages could have really helped stagger the events and flesh out characters a bit better. While I loved Trevor and Plank, I felt like a lot of the other characters were rather blank and flat.

Trevor, our protagonist, has a great narrative voice. He feels very much like a teenage boy, and I found myself relating to him and how he feels about his own life. Trevor holds a “brave face” throughout the narrative, but there are moments of sadness, where something much deeper slips through. One of my favourite parts of the book, in fact, is when Trevor talks about religion, and how he selected which religion he wanted to believe in. He mentions how he chose Buddhism because all he wanted was to be born in a body that isn’t sick. This hit me in the gut, because it sounds exactly like something a child would want. His exact life, but without the sickness. Moments like this, where some subtle fear, or pain, or sadness seeps through are definitely some of the highlights of the book.

What I really loved was how death appears in the book. Everyone is dying in some way, and I think that’s a really smart move to make in a book about death and life and regret and finding that seed of happiness. Death exists in many different forms, and touches us all, but that doesn’t mean we have to die: we can follow Plank’s Law and search for life in our lives.

The ending I felt was rushed, but I guess that’s what happens in short narratives. While I liked this book, I really do believe it could have benefited from being longer so that themes and characters could be better explored, but I do think it’s a book that people who aren’t big readers will enjoy.

3 laws out of 5. 

A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES: A Book Review

It’s Hunger Games meets Beauty and the Beast!

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Listen. If you want me to read a book, put it on sale. Chapters was getting rid of the hardcover edition since the paperback was recently released, so how could I pass that up? I’d been in the mood for a fantasy story, and I can never say no to fairies.

By the end of the first chapter, I felt like I was rereading The Hunger Games. Feyre is not Katniss Everdeen by any means, but the first chapter feels like maybe she is. Now, I love Feyre and I think she’s kickass, even if she’s a bit dense. I love the way she claims her sexuality and her desires, and I love how she makes every decision based upon how hard she can smash the patriarchy and everyone who constantly tries to enforce no on her (seriously, does she obey anyone???). But I’m telling you, starting off with this hunting-in-the-woods-to-save-my-family thing feels very, very familiar.

Now. The characters in this book are great. I kind of fell in love with all of them, even if I didn’t want to? Even the characters I felt like maybe I should like, I absolutely loved. There’s some very sexy men, and interesting men, hiding in these pages for sure.

The problem, then, is the plot.

The Beauty and the Beast undertones are very obvious, which makes it pretty easy to figure out the plot and the game that’s being played. Unfortunately, I found that this also makes the first half of the book very unenjoyable. I was so bored. I get that it’s world-building and relationship establishing, but I have read many books that do the same things in a much more interesting way. In fact, I found myself forgetting things that had happened mere pages before because I found it so dull. I struggled through the first half, but I still kept reading because I could feel something going on that I couldn’t quite see yet…

And then the last 150 pages change everything.

The last bit of this book is an exceptional improvement on the first half. So much so that I would give it a 4 maybe even 5 star rating. It’s that good. I don’t want to spoil it, but if the last half was as interesting as the first, this would have been a much better book. Feyre is still dense, but she’s dense and badass and she’s actually able to use her head and becomes even more badass.

Goodreads claims that the sequel is one of the best books of 2016 and I’m ready to believe it: A Court of Thorns and Roses shows high potential, and if the sequel continues on where the first left off, then I am in for a very, very good book.

3 stars out of 5 [but 4.5 for the last 150 pages]

EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IS NOT RUINED: A Book Review

Is it still considered a plot twist when you called it from the start?

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I really liked Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman and it really had a lot of great things going for it. First off, it’s Canadian and it’s not a prairie book (although I love those too). Second, it has very interesting characters: strange and wonderful and entirely whole. Third, it’s about camping and roughing it. Fourth, it features two alternating timelines, which is one of my favourite storytelling modes. So as you can see, it has a lot of really fantastic things going for it. So why didn’t I love it?

The writing is about what you’d expect from a light young adult novel. It’s not something to sing about (haha, I made a funny, because the book itself is about Margot-Sophia’s and Ingrid’s singing) but it’s not bad writing either. It’s smack dab in the middle: nice and easy to read and get lost in. I don’t think there were any eye-rolling worthy moments, except maybe during the sex scene (if I can even call it that) but the protagonist is a 16 year old girl, so it’s fitting, I guess. But still slightly ridiculous.

The main thing I didn’t like about this book was that it felt way too short. It’s essentially two different novels shoved into one, and it works to tell Ingrid’s story. The problem is, you don’t get to hear the story of anyone else. I mean, there are so wildly interesting characters at this wilderness retreat, including a girl who was part of a cult and an ex-con. I feel like these characters fall extremely flat and become nothing more than a name with a vague description which sucks. They become stereotypes when they could have been dynamic characters that help Ingrid on her journey. I get that this is Ingrid’s story, but I can’t help but feel that if we got to know these side characters better, then maybe we could understand Ingrid a bit more, and maybe she would realize things about herself too.

I would also like to learn a lot more about Isaac, the main love interest. While I did find him charming and sweet, for the most part, I feel like his story is very important too, and shouldn’t have been brushed over in a page like it was. There was so much to explore with him but hey, I guess that just goes to show that there’s so much more Ingrid has to learn about the world around her.

All in all, I found this book to be an interesting and easy read, and I quite enjoyed it. It’s not an epic, but it is a great slice-of-life story and Ingrid is such a lovely character to fall into. I hope wherever Ingrid is, she’s happy and doing well.

3.5 mosquitoes out of 5.

GOODBYE DAYS: A Book Review

I expected sadness, but I did not expect to be INFURIATED.

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Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner is about a boy named Carver who sent a text message to his friend who was driving, and it results in a tragic car accident where all of Carver’s friends die. It sounds sad, right? And it is: we see Carver’s pain first hand, but we also (brilliantly) see the pain of others through Carver’s eyes, and how everyone experiences this grief differently. Another brilliant thing as the “goodbye days” themselves: days in which Carver spends with the families of those lost, and they all learn about these boys even postmortem.  The last brilliant thing this book brings is how it contemplates “who is to blame?” for the accident.

It’s brilliant, and it’s INFURIATING.

See, many people blame Carver, including Carver himself. Some blame him so much, they want him to face criminal charges.

That’s right. Criminal charges. For a text message.

More than once, I yelled at this book. Loudly. With swear words. Because I was so mad at how these people were treating this poor boy who lost all his friends as a result of a choice he made, even if it was a rather innocent one. Carver is in so much pain, and no one seems to see this, too blinded by their own pain to notice how much everything is affecting him. It hurt my heart.

What also hurt my heart were the goodbye days, which were dealt with so tenderly. I love how you leave the book feeling like you really knew Carver’s friends, even if they are dead when the novel begins. The book also uses flashbacks and memories at the perfect times to heighten whatever emotion you’re feeling.

While this book certainly made me feel a lot of things, I can’t help but think that it could have done more. It gave me a soft punch when I wanted to be knocked-out. But maybe that ultra-heartbreaking, sob-your-eyes-out story isn’t what Zentner wanted to sell. Maybe he wanted that subtle sadness, that creeps up on you and stays with you for so long, you’re unsure of what caused it to begin with.

3.5 goodbye days out of 5.