May 13, 2015

Bought Forever Ago & Finally Read

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Release Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 368 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
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Summary (from Goodreads)
While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that's in store for her? 

Brief Thoughts on Rose Under Fire
After falling in love with Code Name Verity, I pre-ordered Rose Under Fire... which of course means that it's been sitting on my shelf for the last two years. Honestly, that's pretty much the theme of these mini-reviews: books I bought forever ago and finally read. I had high expectations for Rose Under Fire, and I'm so happy to report that it didn't disappoint. I found it a bit slow to start, but I was hooked on the story much earlier than I was with Code Name Verity. Rose is an intriguing character, but it's the situation she finds herself in and the people surrounding her that made this book so memorable for me. There were scenes in this book that I don't think I'll ever forget!

Wein's level of research is so impressive. Although I've read numerous books about WWII, both fiction and non-fiction, I still learned new things about the time period from this book. While I don't always love Wein's writing style, I cannot say enough about the relationships and emotions inside these pages. Wein explores the highs and lows of humanity - revealing both the most sickening sides of people as well as their remarkable capacity for bravery, love and loyalty. There are the huge horrors, but there are also these tiny things you don't even expect to gut you the way that they do. There are so many heartbreaking moments in this book, especially knowing the worst things aren't fictional, and yet it's a hopeful read... even if I did cry my eyes out.

So Quotable
“Hope is the most treacherous thing in the world. It lifts you and lets you plummet. But as long as you're being lifted you don't worry about plummeting.”
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Release Date: May 10, 2012
Publisher: Random House | Dial
Pages: 563 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Kindle
Series: Graceling Realm #3
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Summary (from Goodreads)
When Queen Bitterblue took the throne of Monsea, she was a child, and her advisers ran the kngdom for her. Now she is beginning to question their decisions, especially how they handle the legacy of her father Leck, who who ruled through his Grace — a special talent for mind-altering — and his taste for darkness and violence. Bitterblue needs to know Monsea’s past to lead it into the future, so she begins exploring the city sreets at night, disguised and alone. As she does, she meets two thieves, who hold a key to the truth of Leck's reign. And one of them, with a Grace that he hasn't yet identified, holds a key to her heart.

Brief Thoughts on Bitterblue
I've had an interesting experience with this series. I read Graceling long before I considered myself a fantasy reader and was surprised by just how much I loved it. I was convinced that I was going to hate it, but I ended up so invested in Katsa and Po's story. Not long after, I read Fire and was a little disappointed. It didn't really live up to my expectations! I bought Bitterblue not long after it was released, determined to finish this series. By that time, however, I decided to re-read Graceling first... and I didn't like it as much the second time around. And so, I lost all my motivation to read Bitterblue.

While on vacation recently, I decided it was finally time to see how this series ended. The book had waited long enough, and I felt like it was hanging over my head. Although I was hoping it would remind me of all the things I loved about the series originally, I found myself frustrated and confused while reading. I think it's meant to mimic Bitterblue's own state of confusion, but it dragged on for way too long. It was so convoluted - certain things were repeated over and over again and others were barely explained. The premise sounded exciting, but it turned out to be such a boring read! The romance was barely developed, and I feel like Cashore only writes one type of relationship or heroine. After reading the special section at the end about the writing process for Bitterblue, it almost made sense to me that the plot was all over the place. It seemed as though there wasn't a clear vision, and the book had both too much and not enough in the end.

So Quotable
"Every configuration of people is an entirely new universe unto itself.”
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

Release Date: March 26, 2013
Publisher: Macmillan | St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 256 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Kindle
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Summary (from Goodreads)
A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

Brief Thoughts on If You Find Me
I bought If You Find Me not long after it was released because I kept hearing great things about it. I decided to let it sit on my Kindle so I could read it after some time had passed, and I'm glad I did. Despite being a short book, this was a difficult read in many ways. The language is simple and the narration unforgettable, but the subject matter is heartbreaking. I found myself swept up in the story almost from page one - simultaneously anxious to know more about these girls and dreading finding out exactly what they endured.

If I were rating this book on my emotional investment alone, I'd likely rate it much higher. The writing is lovely, and I loved Carey's voice and observations on the world around her. However, I can't ignore the numerous inaccuracies that I noticed - even without knowing much about the child welfare system. This review highlights those issues, though what I found more startling was that the sisters didn't receive any counseling. If You Find Me was an engrossing read, but I found it problematic. I didn't completely believe the characterization either. When I was reading it, I was immersed in the story. But as soon as I put it down, I would question certain aspects and notice frustrating things about the story. I liked this while I was reading it, but I'd hesitate to recommend it.

So Quotable
"I answer her with my silence, understanding the full power of it for the first time. Words are weapons. Weapons are powerful. So are unsaid words. So are unused weapons."

2 comments:

  1. Your post reminds me of all the poor books waiting on my shelf to be read... How are there so many books to read?! It's at this time that I have to remember: while I may never get to read all the books I want to, I certainly will never ever run out of books to read. Sorry to hear If You Find Me didn't win you over. I've heard such interesting, mostly positive things about it. It will certainly be interesting when I finally do pick it up for myself!

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  2. Like Rebecca, your post makes me feel the teensiest bit guilty for ignoring books that have been on my shelf for a while now. Hopefully, I'll be inspired to pick up some and read them sooner! I still have Bitterblue on my TBR, only because I want to reread Graceling and Fire before it. And I do want to check out Rose Under Fire at some point! But I'm a little sad to hear about If You Find Me not really hitting that sweet spot for you. Totally get it though :)

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