Before the ski trip, sixteen-year-old Cassidy “Sid” Murphy was a cheerleader (at the bottom of the pyramid, but still…), a straight-A student, and a member of a solid trio of best friends. When she ends up on a ski lift next to handsome local college boy, Dax Windsor, she’s thrilled; but Dax takes everything from Sid—including a lock of her perfect red curls—and she can’t remember any of it.
Back home and unable to relate to her old friends, Sid drops her college prep classes and takes up residence in the A/V room with only Corey Livingston for company. But as she gets to know Corey (slacker, baker, total dreamboat), Sid finds someone who truly makes her happy. Now, if she can just shake the nightmares and those few extra pounds, everything will be perfect… or so she thinks.
What happens when you think something terrible has occurred, but you can’t be sure? What happens when you can’t remember? What happens when you can’t forget?
What happens when someone takes everything from you?
This book doesn’t have all the answers, but it sure does come close.
Sid felt so incredibly real – her reactions, her motivations, her skewed understandings all made sense the way that Sid thought and felt them. They made sense to her (most of the time), and so it was easy to see why she did(n’t) do what she did.
I found the first part of the book utterly harrowing. As Sid slowly came to realise what had happened to her, I literally had to take breaks from reading: tear myself away from the words on the page and take a deep breath. It has that much of an impact.
The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.
But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…
This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.
A Monster Calls is the story of thirteen-year-old Conor O’Malley, whose mother is undergoing treatment for cancer. His mother’s terminal illness provides a stark backdrop for Conor’s story, and the reason for the appearance of the ‘monster’ at his bedroom window.
This book is as beautiful as it is harrowing.
It is a story that centres around the pain of losing someone you love to terminal illness. Patrick Ness is credited as stating that A Monster Calls is a story “about loss, but also the fear of loss, and there’s not a person in the world – young or old – who hasn’t experienced that.” (Link)
This is a story about grief, about guilt, and about the importance of admitting the truth. It is about facing your monsters: the real ones at your window, and the ones of your nightmares.
Neryn thought she had lost everything and could trust no one, not even her mysterious companion, Flint.
But when she finds refuge at the rebel base of Shadowfell and discovers her canny gift as a Caller, she feels the first stirrings of hope.
Now she faces a perilous journey with the rebel Tali and the Good Folk, who shadow her steps. She must find the three Guardians who can teach her how to use her unwieldy gift – one that it is rumoured could amass a powerful army.
Can Neryn master her magical power to save Alban from King Keldec’s stranglehold?
Or will she be too late?
When I read Juliet Marillier’s Shadowfell last year, I really enjoyed it. However, reading it again before opening Raven Flight I did find the progression of the story rather slow. This was understandable for a novel that centres around the slow development of trust between two people who have little experience of it, and a journey across a dangerous landscape. It made me a little worried about Raven Flight, though.
As an adult reader (and avid fan of Juliet Marillier!), I still enjoyed Shadowfell, but as a teacher librarian who is trying to promote the novels to students, I wasn’t sure that I would be able to convince my students to A) pick it up, and B) keep reading.
Raven Flight quickly allayed any such doubts.
This was a fantastic novel, both in its own right and as a sequel. I found myself mesmerized by a novel that was equal parts adventure, fantasy, quest and coming-of-age novel – with just the right amount of romance! Marillier is a master storyteller, and whilst Shadowfell may have gotten lost in the long journey which Neryn undertook, Raven Flight continues that journey at a pace which is captivating and entrancing. I definitely didn’t want to put it down!
They say ‘live every day as if it’s your last’—but you never actually think it’s going to be. At least I didn’t.
The thing is, you don’t get to know when it happens. You don’t remember to tell your family that you love them or—in my case—remember to say goodbye to them at all.
But what if, like me, you could live your last day over and over again? Could you make it perfect? If your whole life flashed before your eyes, would you have no regrets? Or are there some things you’d want to change…?
Before I Fall begins with the main character, Sam, telling the reader that she is dead. She then proceeds to narrate her final day of life, and the seemingly random events that culminated in her tragic death at the age of seventeen. However, the day that she dies is not Sam’s final day, as she is forced to relive the day over and over again, with no idea why or what is happening. But Lauren Oliver makes it clear that there is something Sam must do, something she must understand, before her endless last day will stop repeating.
Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there’s a tomorrow. Maybe for you there’s one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around it, let it slide like coins through you fingers. So much time you can waste it.
But for some of us there’s only today. And the truth is, you never really know.
Oliver’s novel is beautiful, poignant and utterly captivating. I picked it up for something to fill my day with and just about devoured it in one setting. Sam’s story is one that will stay with you, well beyond the final pages.
(MILD SPOILERS AHEAD!)
I haven’t managed to do too much reading lately – life has been very busy with the approach of Christmas and lots of work. In exciting news, I have managed to get a job for the upcoming school year – I will be working in a school as a teacher-librarian! Just what I was hoping for! 😀 😀 😀
A side-effect of this is that I have been given a pretty long recommended reading list, full of stories that young adults like to read. I had to laugh when I saw that I had already read quite a few of the recommended authors – my enjoyment of YA literature is definitely coming in handy! The best of the recommended YA books I have read so far is definitely Sarah Dessen’s Just Listen. The novel has some great characterisations, and dealt with some sensitive issues in a delicate yet realistic manner. More on the novel below.
Coming up, my reviews of Juliet Marillier’s latest release, Flame of Sevenwaters, and the (auto)biography of John Barrowman, Anything Goes.
Featured this month:
- Contest – Matthew Reilly
- Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight – Nick Earl and Rebecca Sparrow
- Just Listen – Sarah Dessen
- Crow Country – Kate Constable
- The Body in the Fog – Cora Harrison
Once I completed my studies for university, I definitely jumped into the deep end of the reading pool – reading 10 novels/novellas/short story collections during the last month. My reading list centred almost exclusively on young adult realistic fiction, with the exception of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, the latest in D.D. Marks’s Olesia Anderson spy thrillers, and Tamora Pierce’s collection of short stories.
Many of the novels I read over the past month were fantastic, and really enjoyed reading them. Two in particular stand out for me: When We Were Two by Australian firefighter Robert Newton, and You Against Me by British actress-turned-author Jenny Downham. Though vastly different, these novels stood out for the brilliance of their construction, the approachability of their characters and storylines that kept me interested the who way through. I really cannot recommend these two novels enough.
Featured this month:
- Double Deals (pt. 1) – D.D. Marks
- When We Were Two – Robert Newton
- The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
- The Casual Vacancy – J.K. Rowling
- Before I Die – Jenny Downham
- Tortall and Other Lands – Tamora Pierce
- Hate List – Jennifer Brown
- You Against Me – Jenny Downham
- How to Buy a Love of Reading – Tanya Egan Gibson