Tides by Betsy Cornwell: review

TidesTides by Betsy Cornwell
Stand Alone
My Rating: 
5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Magic Realism
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: June 4th 2013
Synopsis: When high-school senior Noah Gallagher and his adopted teenage sister, Lo, go to live with their grandmother in her island cottage for the summer, they don’t expect much in the way of adventure. Noah has landed a marine biology internship, and Lo wants to draw and paint, perhaps even to vanquish her struggles with bulimia. But then things take a dramatic turn for them both when Noah mistakenly tries to save a mysterious girl from drowning. This dreamlike, suspenseful story—deftly told from multiple points of view—dives deeply into selkie folklore while examining the fluid nature of love and family.

My Thoughts:

Upon finishing Tides, my breath was taken away. I am still having trouble coming up with sentences that will actually do this novel justice. Cornwell beautifully captures the salt water waves of the ocean, the magical, fantasy beings called selkies, the ties that bind a family, and love. Tides is a book that feels as real as it feels dreamy.

One of the many noteable qualities of the contents of Tides is the perfect melding of everyday life and fantasy. Cornwell takes time with the problems of the characters that many people have in their mundane lives: wanting to accomplish a dream and the frustration that comes with not quite reaching it, bulimia, conflict inside a family, and supporting your loved ones but not knowing how to. The author also puts a lot of focus on family, especially how a group of people can still be a family even if not blood related. Another major focus is loving someone completely regardless of gender. These themes are all handled with care and sensitivity that is very awe-inspiring.

The story of Tides does deal with the main fear of the selkies, having their skin stolen, that many stories of the same kind deal with, but Tides delivers it in such of a refreshing way that I have no complaints about it. Couple that with the wonderful contemporary element and I downright loved the story. The mystery is suspenseful, albeit a bit predictable since the reader can probably guess who the culprit is right off the bat, but still highly absorbing and quite emotional at times because of the terrible effects the culprit had on the selkies.

Pacing is far from fast in the beginning. There are many characters to introduce and relationships to establish, as this is a character driven story, before all the suspense and mystery kicks in. But when the mystery and suspense kick in, the pacing changes greatly, though not abruptly. I didn’t even notice the change until I thought back on it.

Cornwell writes her characters with amazing depth, each one having their own set of problems to face and conquer and a distinct personality. Which is impressive considering that Tides has a lot of characters. While characters like Noah, Lo, Mara, Maebh, and Gemm take the stage, the more minor characters are also written remarkable well. I could relate to all of them in some way and could emotionally connect with them.

I was absolutely touched by all the relationships in this book. The author definitely knows how to write family, friendship, and romance and doesn’t hold back in this novel. I adored the loving, romantic relationship between Maebh and Gemm, the sibling relationship Noah and Lo shared, the romance between Mara and Noah, and the relationship the selkies of the pod had together. Saying that this aspect of the story is top-notch doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Cornwell’s prose is exceptional with its soft, peaceful feel and power. The words flow nicely and beautifully emphasized the wonder of the ocean and shore. I could hear the waves of the ocean hitting the rocks on the shore. I could feel my feet in the water. The atmosphere was perpetual and comforting, which is something I consider brilliant.

Using multiple point of views in a story is very tricky considering that it can cause characters to be under-developed, and the writer also has the risk of not being able to make the different point of views distinct from each other. Fortunately, Cornwell doesn’t fall into that trap. She pits to use many, many point of views with skill. Transitions are smooth, choices are distinct, and no character is under-developed.

When I read a story I really love, I find it hard to form words with my fingers or mouth. But with Tides I can speak and type just fine– I just can’t stop pouring and rambling my out my feelings about it. Tides is an insightful, gorgeous novel that is full of heart. Saying that I recommend this book would be a massive understatement.

I received an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley

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A Corner Of White by Jaclyn Moriarty: review

A Corner of WhiteA Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

Series: The Colors of Madeleine #1

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy, Contemporary, Magic Realism

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books

Release Date: April 1st 2013

Synopsis: (from Goodreads) The first in a rousing, funny, genre-busting trilogy from bestseller Jaclyn Moriarty!

This is a tale of missing persons. Madeleine and her mother have run away from their former life, under mysterious circumstances, and settled in a rainy corner of Cambridge (in our world).

Elliot, on the other hand, is in search of his father, who disappeared on the night his uncle was found dead. The talk in the town of Bonfire (in the Kingdom of Cello) is that Elliot’s dad may have killed his brother and run away with the Physics teacher. But Elliot refuses to believe it. And he is determined to find both his dad and the truth.

As Madeleine and Elliot move closer to unraveling their mysteries, they begin to exchange messages across worlds — through an accidental gap that hasn’t appeared in centuries. But even greater mysteries are unfolding on both sides of the gap: dangerous weather phenomena called “color storms;” a strange fascination with Isaac Newton; the myth of the “Butterfly Child,” whose appearance could end the droughts of Cello; and some unexpected kisses…

My Thoughts:

A Corner of White has the kind of originality that sends sparks flying into the air. The kind of originality that has been lost for a looong time. Jaclyn Moriarty has completely and utterly blown me away with the way she can grab hold of a story and render it into something made of brilliance in its whole entirety.

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Oh, let’s not forget “genius”!

But alas, not everyone will be able to love this book. I will not hesitate to say that A Corner of White will be unbearably slow for many people. It seems to me that Moriarty’s priority was not making her creation exciting in a general sense. No, she uses much of the pages in A Corner of White to build up the characters and the world of Cello. So if you don’t like looking at the scenery and smelling the roses for a long period of time then this is most probably not for you.

There are some people who love strolling slowly and looking at the scenery, though, and those people will definitely fall for Moriarty’s quirky, strange, and lovely, lovely story that is full of Colour. Literally. Warning: You will be attacked by a vicious wave of Red when you get about halfway through this book.

The story in A Corner of White is easy to understand, but I found it to be complex, and tear jerking at times. A Corner of White tells the stories of Madeleine and Elliot-two teens who feel like they have been looking at the world with their eyes closed- just living their lives. Madeleine is a girl who has run away from her rich and colorful life to a small apartment in Cambridge, England with her mother. Elliot is a boy who is looking for his father- a man is suspected to have been abducted by a Purple.

Madeleine, Jack, Belle, and Elliot are such a loveable, quirky group of characters. Madeleine is a very mysterious character for much of the novel. The reader only knows that she is a flawed person who often gets lost in her own thoughts. Elliot is what I would call the exact opposite of Madeleine. He has a sheer determination to find his father and he constantly thinks about his father. These two characters are hard to forget and I can’t stop thinking about them!

Jack and Belle were surprisingly good for side-characters. Jack was extremely cute with his theory of reincarnation and his ramblings, and Belle shined bright with her ability to read auras and her hard-to-describe personality.

Moriarty has a habit of writing a scene with intense detail. Sometimes it feels like Moriarty dedicated more time to the scenery than the characters. And oddly, I loved that. Moriarty has a beautiful way with words and reading her descriptions was an absolute delight! But if you don’t like that, don’t worry! Moriarty does focus more on her characters when things start getting interesting.

The world of Cello was cleverly made. It was unique and I can honestly say that I have never read a world like it. I mean, have you ever read a book where Colours are monsters and a Butterfly Child is a good omen? Most probably not.

As you can see, this is a wonderful, creative novel that I highly recommend! Moriarty has completely wowed me with her skills. The ending is a perfect set-up for a exciting series. And I can wholeheartedly say that I can not wait for the next installment! A Corner of White may be made with the beauty of a rainbow but I can imagine that when it is put together with the rest of the story it will become a universe made of colorful stars.

An advanced copy was provided in exchange for a honest review via Netgalley.

The Three Loves Of Persimmon by Cassandra Golds: review

The Three Loves of PersimmonThe Three Loves Of Persimmon by Cassandra Golds

Stand Alone

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Young Adult/Middle Grade/Childrens

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fable, Magical Realism, Romance

Publisher: Penguin Books

Release Date: August 25th 2010

Synopsis: Persimmon Polidori is a fine young lady, but within her is a rebel. She must follow her heart’s desire, even if it means her family will reject her for the choices she makes. These choices bring her adventure and a world she never knew existed – they also bring her loneliness…

Along the way, Persimmon undergoes the trials of love, heartbreak, doubt and the discovery of her own true value.

And she does it with the aid of a tiny, brave creature named Epiphany.

My Thoughts:

There are some books that one stumbles upon by chance. The Three Loves of Persimmon was one of those books for me. I had no idea this book existed until I saw the title somewhere online. I am so very glad I did. I am pretty darn sure that it is my soul mate of a book.

The Three Loves of Persimmon is a beautiful, lovely fable. The story is romantic, inspiring, and uplifting. I found it to have a magical quality to it. This book made me feels as if there was a shower of bursting stars falling around me. It is also very thought-provoking and gives the opportunity for a whole day of reminiscing and discussing.

All I could say about the story at first was, what a story. This is indeed a story that will stay loved by me for years. It is a story about growth and love and happiness. It is a story with bustling people and trains and talking ornamental cabbages and adventurous mice and heartbreak and strong, quiet florist and lessons. It is an epic story.

The writing was very conversational. I felt as if the third-person narrator was talking to me, and I loved that. Golds had such a way of painting the world with her writing. She seemed to find the beauty and happiness of it and put it into words perfectly. There is also a lot of personifying inanimate objects which was just the bee’s knees (yes, I used that idiom)! When I put down the book I felt like I could hear the silly whispers of the moths flying outside my window.

I loved each of the two leads of this story. I hold them very dear to me. Epiphany is a daring little mouse whose craving for adventure made me want to run to the train station and jump on a train without knowing where it went. Persimmon is a quiet florist whose love for flowers made me want to slowly stroll around in a garden. They are also full of depth, creativity, love, and growth. They discover things about themselves and they grow in this story.

The side characters were also very darling. They added much quality to the story with their colorful personalities. Some of these characters are only present for a couple of pages but they still make a big impact (a certain creature living in a grate, for example).

The lesson this story teaches is very simple: you matter. You are not an extra. You have a purpose. Golds doesn’t try to overwhelm the reader with speeches but rather with sweet, inspiring pieces of dialogue.

“‘I am worthwhile,’ she said to herself earnestly.

“‘I never doubted it,’ said the young man just as earnestly” (92%)

The way the story delivers its message is amazing and never forced, as you can see from the above quote.

The ending of this story made my eyes widen in awe. It is a happy ending but it made me cry. Golds tied up everything neatly and beautifully.

The Three Loves of Persimmon is a beautiful story. A story that I just want to hug in my arms and take with me wherever I go! I would love to travel the world with this story. I would certainly need the lesson it teaches. Remember people: You are worth something. Don’t forget that! Now read this book and then come back so we can have a bookish tea party together.

Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz: review

TeethTeeth by Hannah Moskowitz

Stand Alone

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Magic Realism

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date:  January 1st 2013

Synopsis: A gritty, romantic modern fairy tale from the author of Break and Gone, Gone, Gone.

Be careful what you believe in.

Rudy’s life is flipped upside-down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness and lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house.

Then he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life.

My Thoughts:

Teeth is a novel that lingers in one’s mind. A novel with sincere emotion that will grip your heart and never let go. This makes is a very brutal read. It made my heart feel heavy with sadness and longing. I wouldn’t call this a romantic story like the synopsis says but I would call it a gritty story that is filled with emotion and memorable characters.

Teeth is a story about a lonely boy’s discovery of a lonely fishboy on a remote island that is rumored to be the place where life-giving fish lurk. At first the boy (called Rudy) is happy to have a strange friend to spend the days with. But then Rudy starts to learn secrets. And with those secrets come choices.

The atmosphere of Teeth is quite gothic and dreary. With screaming winds and mysterious fish, this novel establishes a beautiful yet eerie feel almost immediately. I often had to tear my eyes away from the pages and look around my room to make sure that I was safe in my cozy home. The great world building of the remote island that is home to the Enki only adds to the atmosphere.

Moskowitz has a talent for characters, I believe. They are depressing, sad, flawed, and filled with inner darkness. She made me feel a lot of empathy for both Rudy and Teeth. These two characters are layered with many layers.

Rudy was a very authentic male character. His narrative is riddled with many curse words, but I could clearly feel his emotions and conflict over his family and friendship with Teeth. He is a very flawed character. He lets his loneliness rule his decisions which often leads him to making the wrong choice. He does grow as a person (and as a brother and as a friend) and starts making decisions that might be hard but are the best. He felt truly tangible to me and I won’t forget about him for a long time.

Teeth is the title character of this story. He is the lonely creature that is half-human and half-fish. I don’t remember ever feeling this sad for a character. Teeth’s entire existance is just sad. I cried buckets of tears because of him. Teeth can be an asshole (Rudy’s words not mine) and unreasonable and impulsive, but behind all that he is just a scared, lonely fishboy. I wanted to take his hand and lead him somewhere safe where he can be happy. Teeth will be forever swimming in the depth of my mind.

Moskowitz’s prose is raw. The writing captures the utter gloominess and sadness of this novel perfectly. It isn’t flowery but it is beautiful and clear. I savored each and every of Moskowitz’s words. I even reread passages when I finished the novel.

The ending was agonizing to my poor heart. I don’t think I have ever felt so…empty over an ending. I felt like a rain that will never stop was pouring over the earth.

Do you need a hug? I know I do.

I believe that Teeth is a special novel. The kind of special that only rarely comes into the world. Does that sound over dramatic? Maybe. But this is how I truly feel about this book. Now please just go read this book so you can experience the ugly beauty of it yourself. Don’t let your fear of the strangeness this novel has keep you away from it. I doubt you will regret it.