Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti: A

Title: The Nature of Jade
Author: Deb Caletti
Genre: Realisitc Fiction (YA)
Publication: 2007 by Simon and Schuster
Pages: 288
Ages: 13+
Grade: A

Jade DeLuna is too young to die. She knows this, and yet she can't quite believe it, especially when the terrifying thoughts, loss of breath, and dizzy feelings come. Since being diagnosed with Panic Disorder, she's trying her best to stay calm, and visiting the elephants at the nearby zoo seems to help. That's why Jade keeps the live zoo webcam on in her room, and that's where she first sees the boy in the red jacket. A boy who stops to watch the elephants. A boy carrying a baby.

His name is Sebastian, and he is raising his son alone. Jade is drawn into Sebastian's cozy life with his son and his activist grandmother on their Seattle houseboat, and before she knows it, she's in love. With this boy who has lived through harder times than anyone she knows. This boy with a past.

Jade knows the situation is beyond complicated, but she hasn't felt this safe in a long time. She owes it all to Sebastian, her boy with the great heart. Her boy who is hiding a terrible secret. A secret that will force Jade to decide between what is right, and what feels right.

Master storyteller Deb Caletti has once again created characters so real, you will be breathless with anticipation as their riveting story unfolds.

General: This book is going to get a rave review. I know for sure this book will receive a great review from me. I actually picked this book off the shelf because of the color. The greenish color of the cover caught my eye because it’s my favorite color. When I started reading it, I realized that it was moving pretty slowly. The beginning was uneventful in the area of the plot, but it kept me totally pulled in because the characters were so real. They were practically living and breathing. Things definitely picked up pretty fast, though. One of the things I absolutely loved was that although the plot became exciting and eventful, the characters never lost an ounce of their real-ness. If anything, they became even more tangible.

The Nature of Jade is a DEEP book. It’s really, really deep. The whole book is kind of your typical YA romance novel. The main character, a girl named Jade, meets a cute guy, named Sebastian. Said characters fall in love. But this book… It’s so much more than that. It’s a traditional YA romance with a twist. A lot of twists, actually. Jade has a panic disorder, which immediately adds a lot of depth to the story. Sebastian has a son and a troubled past. And…the rest I can’t say without spoilers ;) The whole thing is an adorable, touching romance that blossoms between two spectacular characters with a sprinkling of tasteful humor and a dash of educational information. But the whole book is extremely deep and thought-provoking. I’m amazed at Deb Caletti for what she’s done with this novel. Her utter creativity is phenomenal.

I’m almost sad to say that I finished this book. I wish it never had to end. The interaction between Jade and Sebastian touched me in a special way and it gave me happy goosebumps and those girly little giggles, the giddy kind you get when you witness a young romance. I cried hard whenever Jade’s heart is torn or broken, and when Sebastian felt lost and hopeless. I cried, too, when the two couldn’t contain their joy with each other, and when their love withstood all. At times, I cracked up because Deb Caletti is just…hysterical. This book just left me awestruck and wishing it didn’t have to end so soon.

Plot: The plot is pretty general, but SO not cliché. It’s not completely out of the blue, and out of the ordinary, but it has a uniqueness that’s astounding. The whole plot moved really well. It went at precisely the perfect speed, with precisely the right words, feelings, and descriptions.

The blossoming love relationship between Jade and Sebastian was simply beautiful. The breaking and healing of family relationships within the book was raw and painful. And Deb Caletti let you feel that to the max.

Like I mentioned, the beginning was uneventful, but not boring. It was the setting up of the main characters, particularly Jade. The author let us into her brain in a deep way from the very beginning. Honestly, close to the ending of the book, I was afraid it was all going to end horribly and it was going to be one of THOSE books. But I can’t describe to you my happiness when that proved to be untrue. Without giving away anything, don’t give up hope on the book in the last 20 pages. I was scared…but my fears were soothed (with tears running down my cheeks) by the last page.

Characters: Like I already mentioned, the characters were utterly and honestly true and real. While reading it, I actually began to feel like I was getting to know them. I learned to love and sympathize with each of them in one way or another. One of the things I loved was Jade’s name and how she comes to fit it through the book. Jade is one of the strongest materials in nature, and this is mentioned in the book. As the story progresses, Jade slowly begins to “fit into” her name in the most unlikely ways (considering the difficult disorder she lives with).

Watching the relationship between Jade and Sebastian blossom was one of the best elements of the book. It was very realistic; the relationship didn’t seem to move too fast. Both had reasons to be cautious about getting into new relationships and that was well-portrayed. First you got to watch Jade slowly fall for Sebastian, even without knowing him well. Then we watched her work in reverse to get to know him after she has already begun to like him. We slowly unraveled the mystery of Sebastian’s past and of Jade’s complicated parents and her panic disorder.

I could easily picture each of the characters and all of the settings in the novel. That’s a big deal for me; I can sometimes tend to be a little picky about that. I like detailed descriptions, but not repetitive ones. I like them to be placed just so throughout the text, not obnoxiously found in the middle of a sentence. And for me, Deb Caletti hit the nail on the head. Right smack on the head. She placed the descriptions expertly throughout the text, and displayed them skillfully. I like making a movie in my head of what I’m reading, and this was probably one of the best books for this.

So I feel a little silly writing this review because I’m just rambling on and on about how spectacular this book was…but it’s true!! The plot was fabulous, the characters were practically breathing in your face through the pages of the book, I felt every single feeling described. I cried. I laughed. I gasped. And I got mad when my favorite character did something stupid, or when someone did something I didn’t like. I thought. I thought about everything this book said. About fear, about love, about right and wrong, about good and bad, about faith in yourself, others, and a greater power. I was just…oh my gosh. This book has me hooked! Thank you, Deb Caletti!


Plot: 20/20
Characters: 20/20
Ending: 18/20
Cover: 15/20
Style: 20/20
Overall: 93/100

Grade: A

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hold Still by Nina LaCour : B

Title: Hold Still
Author: Nina LaCour
Genre: Realistic Fiction (YA)
Publication: October 15th, 2009 by Dutton Juvenile
Pages: 304
Ages: 13+
Grade: B

An arresting story about starting over after a friend's suicide, froma breakthrough new voice in YA fiction

dear caitlin, there are so many things that i want so badly to tell you but i just can't.

Devastating, hopeful, hopeless, playful . . . in words and illustrations, Ingrid left behind a painful farewell in her journal for Caitlin. Now Caitlin is left alone, by loss and by choice, struggling to find renewed hope in the wake of her best friend's suicide. With the help of family and newfound friends, Caitlin will encounter first love, broaden her horizons, and start to realize that true friendship didn't die with Ingrid. And the journal which once seemed only to chronicle Ingrid's descent into depression, becomes the tool by which Caitlin once again reaches out to all those who loved Ingrid—and Caitlin herself

General: This book was recommended to me by a friend shortly after it came out. I forgot about it, though. Later when I was in the library I saw it on the shelf in the "new" section and picked it up because I thought the cover was cool. When I started reading it, I instantly recognized it as the book that was recommended to me. I totally loved it; it's definitely on my list of favorite books. LaCour's writing style is, I can honestly say, unique. And that's refreshing. Not often do you find authors like her. Her writing is complex, but simple. Painful, but it gives you a sense of joy. Crazy. I love it. At the end of the book, it had me teary and crying. She's just...great.

I must admit, when I first began it, it was very slow. Not much happened and there was a lot of description. I considered putting it down, but I remembered how much my friend had raved about it so I stuck it through. I'm definitely glad I did. It was absolutely astonishing (though perhaps a little cliche) and powerful. It described the brand new, changed life of a teenager whose world has been turned upside-down by tragedy in such a heartbreakingly raw way.

I loved how the whole book was separated into parts by season. It did a great job of chronicling the first year of healing for Caitlin. I also loved the little illustrations and doodles throughout the whole book. It did a lot for the mood of the story.

Plot: Like I mentioned, the beginning is slow, but it's totally worth it to keep reading. The plot is definitely not the most original one I've ever read. It has its cliches. But it also has its moments of surprise and amazement. The whole plot unravels in the beginning as a story of pain and regret. The protagonist, Caitlin, has just survived the suicide of her best friend, Ingrid. She wonders what she could have done differently to save Ingrid. She's overcome with pain as she tries to prove that she feels none. Soon Caitlin finds Ingrid's journal she kept up until the last day of her life. Through the journal, the mystery of Ingrid's suicide unfurls, Caitlin finds closure, and she discovers healing. Through a mix of flashbacks, journal entries, and Caitlin's own thoughts, we gain insight into who Ingrid used to be, and what their friendship was like.

The book, of course, included romance. I could usually mention that it seemed to move astonishingly fast...except it was just too adorable to criticize. It was one of the most touching romances I think I've ever read. So it didn't bother me at all that things moved so quickly.

Characters: Again, in my opinion some relationships (primarily the one between Caitlin and Taylor) moved a little too quickly.  Others (such as the one between Caitlin and a girl from school) move agonizngly slowly, though probably on purpose. The characters absoutely jumped off the page and whispered in your ear. It was amazing how well you could feel the raw emotions they were feeling. Some minor characters seemed a little cliched. But again, it was written so well, and they were so realistic and true, you hardly noticed or cared (unless, of course, you dug really deeply into it to write a review).

Overall, fabulous book. I HIGHLY recommend it. My copy I borrowed from the library. Hopefully soon I can add it to my personal collection.


Plot: 14/20
Characters: 16/20
Style: 20/20
Ending: 18/20
Cover: 19/20
Overall: 87/100

Waiting On Wednesday! (1)

And now here I am doing a Waiting On Wednesday post! Obviously for my first I'm not gonna be real original (I'm sure this is like everyone's Waiting On Wednesday post at some point.)

This fabulous post topic was begun by Jill at Breaking The Spine. Basically all it is, is you introduce upcoming books in the next few months that you're super excited about!

By Suzanne Collins
Release date: August 24th, 2010

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

You have no idea how excited I am to read this. I was pretty late jumping on the Hunger Games train, but once I did, I was absolutely hooked. I CAN'T WAIT!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (1) : The Nature of Jade

Hey guys! I'm totally brand new to this...but I was browsing around on some other book blogs and I saw a few things that people apparently love to do! One of these things was called Teaser Tuesday. It was started by MizB at shouldbereading.wordpress.com. Check her out, it's a pretty cool blog.

Anyway, the idea of Teaser Tuesday is to pick up your current read, flip to a random page, and choose 2 sentences to post on here. AVOID SPOILERS! Don't ruin the book for anyone else! Feel free to play along on your own blog if you'd like :)

The book I'm currently reading is called The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti. So far it's pretty darn good. Keep your eyes peeled for my upcoming review of that. So here goes!

(speaking of her mother) "But sometimes it just feels like she's this barnacle we learned about in biology. It discards its own body to live inside of a crab (read: me), growing and spreading until it finally takes over the crab's body, stealing its life, reaching its tentacles everywhere, even around its eyes."

I just...thought that simile was really cool. It totally fascinated me. So far the whole book has been like that for me. I can't wait to finish that so I can hurry up and get it up on the blog!

Thank you soosoo much to all the people who've already been reading...even though I only have two posts (well, 3 now). I especially want to give a shout-out to Sara Shalash from Along For The Ride at http://www.sarasbookjourney.blogspot.com/. She totally rocks! Everyone go visit her. Like, now.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson : A-

Title: Wintergirls
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: Realistic Fiction (YA)
Publication: 2009 by Speak Publications
Pages: 278
Ages: 13+
Grade: A-

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in fragile bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the thinnest. But then Cassie suffers the ultimate loss--her life--and Lia is left behind, haunted by her friend's memory and feeling guilty for not being able to help save her.
     In her most powerfully moving novel since Speak, award-winning author Laurie Halse Anderson explored Lia's struggle, her painful path to recovery, and her desperate attempts to hold on to the most important thing of all--hope.

General: First of all, let me start off by saying that the author of this novel, Laurie Halse Anderson, is one of my most favorite authors of all time. She has such a talent for writing YA books. I read this book (and re-read it) about a month or two ago. Then I re-read it in order to write a review for it.

That being said, my overall opinion of this book is that it's just plain amazing. Like Laurie Halse Anderson's many other books, the voice of the main character is resounding and it stays with you for a long time. The story is tragic and heartbreaking. It's not necessarily an easy book to read. Some might say it's depressing, and I can't quite argue that. It's...not a "happy" book. It's painful. It comes through the first person with the voice of an anorexic girl, Lia, who's just lost her ex-best friend, Cassie, to bulimia. In Lia's eyes, empty is strong. As long as she has kept the presence of all food out of her system, she is strong. As Cassie's ghost haunts her after Cassie's death, Lia's struggle gets more and more intense as she fights her family, Cassie's ghost, and the urge to eat. Slowly she begins to deteriorate in health until she gets to a point where her entire fate rests on one moment, one choice.

One thing that I didn't absolutely love was the writing style. Generally, LHA has a very unique, crisp, just plain awesome writing style. But for whatever reason, in this novel, it seemed a litte over the top at times. Perhaps this is just personal preference, but I want to be honest. During much of the book, the abstract descriptions truly do add so much to the book; however, at parts, it was almot overkill. It took away from the scene in my opinion. Only at certain parts, though. At times I found it even confusing and difficult to understand. That may or may not bother anyone else; it IS extremely creative and people may actually love what I found confusing.

In this book, Laurie Halse Anderson doesn't sugar coat a thing. The entire story stands on its own, a heartbreakingly realistic novel.

Plot: The plot certainly lives up to the standards Laurie Halse Anderson has set with Speak and all her other previos books. It keeps rolling right along. I didn't feel that there were any particular slow spots where it got boring, nor were there any times where I found myself lost or that the plot had rushed. The events that occured were rarely predictable in any way, and it kept you turning pages, never wanting to put it down.

Characters: Descriptions of the characters themselves were sparse, if they existed at all. It hardly seems to matter, though, because of the amazing descriptions of everything else in the scene. It made picturing the characters very difficult, but seriously, who cares?! The book rocks.

The characters were all very real and relatable. Each had their own detailed personality, even the smallest characters. The dialogue that went on was realistic as well. None of it seemed awkward or unreal, and it all seemed to fit the speaker's age. Overall, awesome.


Plot: 18/20
Characters: 18/20
Style: 16/20
Ending: 20/20
Cover: 20/20
Overall: 92/100

Grade: A-


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