Book Review / The Impossible Knife of Memory

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Year Published: 2014
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Length: 391 page

Synopsis:
Hayley Kincain is far from your typical high school senior. After being home schooled for five years as her dad worked as a semi-truck driver, she finds herself back in the halls of public high school. Throughout first, and last, year in high school Hayley juggles a father suffering from PTSD, trying to access her own memories from her childhood, figuring out the rules to dating, and not doing great at actually passing her classes. Hayley skirts on the brink of disaster in her life on a daily basis. Will she let the memories tear her way through and trust that she can recover? Or will the pressure of taking care of her dad become too much to handle?

My Thoughts:
I just have to start out with proclaiming my love for Laurie Halse Anderson. She is seriously the queen of YA. Anderson takes big issues and weaves them into incredible heart-wrenching tales of love, loss, and belonging.

The ways in which Anderson explained Andy and Hayley’s relationship was so realistic. She didn’t try to sugar coat their dynamic, but showed how complex it was. The constant turmoil Hayley went through of loving and wanting to help her father, but also wanting to just be a normal teenager for once felt was so genuine.

I also loved seeing the highs and lows Andy went through from Hayley’s perspective. This book was a very real exploration of a child living with a parent suffering from PTSD.

I can’t talk about this book without talking about Finn. Hayley and Finn’s relationship was precious, and just as complex as everything else in Hayley’s life. Again, Anderson succeeded in create genuine, realistic relationships between her characters. I think insta-love is all too common in YA. And sure, sometimes it works. But, it wouldn’t have for Finn and Hayley. The fact that Hayley had never really dealt with the realm of boys and relationships became very real in the way she approached her relationship with Finn right from the start. Seriously though, that date he tricked her into? Adorable. Also, the fact that Finn had his own emotional baggage was perfect for Hayley. Sure, they were kind of crap at communicating, but that’s pretty typical for a high school relationship. They definitely learned to be what the each other needed.

For me the sign of a good book is when it makes me emotional. If I am so attached to the lives of these characters that I can’t hold it together, that’s a good sign. This book did just that. I laughed, I cried, I swooned, and I yelled. The Impossible Knife of Memory was just as fantastic as any of Anderson’s other works.

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I Have a Problem

Hi book lovers,

So, I have this problem. I really like to buy new books. But I also really like going to the library. This results in a dangerous mixture of purchasing books all the time only to have them sit on my shelf unread. I own books that I bought up to five years ago that I still haven’t read. That means I bought them when I was fifteen. Five years is a long time for a teenager! Naturally, the books I check out from the library take precedence because I have to return them whereas the books I own will always be there for me.There is just something so magical about a library full of endless possibilities.

Which is why it pains me to say this. I am banning myself from the library.

GASP! Sam, how could you do that to yourself? This is a truly atrocious crime!

I know, I don’t like it anymore than you do, but it must be done. I currently have a stack of books checked out that I am still working my way through, but once I’m through it is that last I will be seeing of the library for a while. At least until I make my way through my own bookshelf.

Do any of you have this problem? 

Happy Reading,
Sam

We Were Liars

Hi Book Lovers,

It was near impossible to escape the hype around We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Although I knew near nothing about the plot I found myself drawn in by the excitement that surrounded it. So when I somehow ended up in the book section of Fred Meyer while running errands it jumped into my cart and I  just had to bring it home with me.

Disclaimer: if you have not read We Were Liars and are planning to I suggest you turn back now. I completely believe it is best to go into this book as blind as possible. Also, it is really hard to review this book without spoilers, so there are going to be some of those suckers in here. Don’t ruin it for yourself!

We Were Liars centers around Cadence and her very rich, very dramatic family and the summers they spend on their private island. Cadence cherishes the time she gets to spend with The Liars.  “The Liars”, as they deemed themselves, consist of Cadence, her cousins John and Mirren, and her kind of step-cousin / secret boyfriend sort of Gat. They spend their summers wreaking havoc on the island.

The summer of her fifteenth year Cadence wakes up in the ocean with no memory of how she ended up there. After spending a summer away from the island she returns the summer she is seventeen and starts to recover her memory and figure out what the heck happened the year she was fifteen.

Ok, This is where the real spoilers start. Just a warning.

I have no idea how in any world it is a good idea to set fire to your grandfathers house just to teach the adults in your life a lessons. That is just an altogether terrible plan! I understand that the aunts were doing crazy things just to win their dads approval and it would suck to be in the position of the Liars. They were essential just pawns for their moms to use. I understand they wanted to do something to end all the manipulative, fake behavior that ran so deep in their family. But really, arson? What kind of fifteen year old thinks of that?

I was not impressed by this book. The writing style sort of drove me crazy. It was almost like it was trying a little too hard to be beautifully written. I think it might because it was written in first person. These were supposed to be Cadence’s thoughts, but they just seemed too poetic. Maybe I just think that because I am pretty simplistic thinker. It just didn’t feel genuine.

The characters annoyed me. Cadence was way more dramatic than necessary. Mirren was a diva. Surprisingly Gat was probably the most stuck up. Johnny was funny, I kind of liked him. The Aunts were so completely desperate. They just bothered me.

The worst part of this for me was the fact that I predicted the ending. I love a good plot twist. I had heard that this book had one. I was so upset when I predicted the plot twist!

I honestly think the only reason I  read this book so quickly was because I was on a three hour plane ride and had already finished the other book I brought. I don’t think this book deserves all the hype it got.

Happy Reading,

Sam

2013 End of Year Survey!

A week ago the world rang in a new year. And while I probably should have posted this closer to good old 2013 ended due to an unexpected trip to Idaho did not. Better late than never, right?
So here it goes. The wrap up of 2013 in the world of my reading life. This survey was originally created by Jamie over at The Perpetual Page-Turner (http://www.perpetualpageturner.com/2013/12/4th-annual-end-of-year-book-survey-2013-edition.html). 

BEST BOOKS OF 2013
1) Best book you read in 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)
YA: The Beckoners by Carrie Mac. I still can’t get over how insane this book was. 
Adult Fiction: Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
Historical Fiction: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. All the tears!
2) Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t?
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen. I am a die-hard Dessen fan, but I was disappointed in her newest release.
3) Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. Not usually into paranormal stuff, but I loved this book!
4) Best series you discovered in 2013?
The Gemma Doyle Series by Libba Bray! Even though I have only actually read the first one so far..
5) Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?
Again…Libba Bray
6) Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Geez I need to get more variety in this sucker! Once again A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. This book was nothing like what I usually read, but oh so wonderful!
7) Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?
The Beckoners by Carrie Mac. 
8) Book you read in 2013 that you are most likely to re-read next year?
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
9) Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?
Lucid by Adrienne Stoltz
10) Most memorable character in 2013? 
Liesel from The Book Thief. Or Beck from The Beckoners
11) Most beautifully written book read in 2013?
Hands down The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
12) Book the had the greatest impact on you in 2013?
This is What I Did by Ann Dee Ellis. Really opened my eyes to middle school bullying and some really serious issues middle schools can go through.
13) Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?
Once again, The Book Thief. Or Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares, but that is because I just found out it existed!
14) Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2013? 
“Usually we walk around constantly believing ourselves. “I’m okay” we say. “I’m alright”. But sometimes the truth arrives on you and you can’t get it off. That’s when you realize that sometimes it isn’t even an answer–it’s a question. Even now, I wonder how much of my life is convinced.” -The Book Thief
15) Shortest and Longest book you read in 2013?
Shortest: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw 96 pages
Longest: Identical by Ellen Hopkins 565 pages
16) Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling abnd dying to talkk to somebody aboutit? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc.) 
The end of The Book Thief. I just wanted to run upstairs and tell my housemate all about it. But she was planning on reading it when I was done, so I didn’t. I just told her it was literally the saddest book I have ever read.
17) Favorite Relationship from a book you read in 2013?
Romance: Kaeleigh and Ian from Identical. And of course Hazel Grace and Augustus from The Fault in Our Stars (which I read for the fourth time in 2013).
Friendship: Liesel and Rudy from The Book Thief.
Family: Tully and Marah from Fly Away
Bonus: Relationship I could not stand in a book I read in 2013? 
Rachel and Wyatt from Towering by Alex Flinn. Uggghhhhh
18) Favorite book you read in 2013 from an author you’ve previously read?
Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares
19) Genre you read most from in 2013?
YA Contemporary
20) Newest fictional crush from abook you read in 2013?
Kartik from A Great and Terrible Beauty
21) Best 2013 debut you read?
Gated by Amy Christine Parker
22) Most Vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?
The Beckoners. The way she describes these girls and what they do is brillant.
23) Book that was most fun to read in 2013?
Hands down Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares. I just love those girls! And it took me back to my middle school days when I was first reading the series. 
24) Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2013?
Geez, I feel like 2013 was the year of emotional books for me! Let’s See, The Book Thief, Fly Away, This is What I Did. 
25) Book you read in 2013 that yo thing got overlooked this year or when it came out?
I am going to go with Sisterhood Everlasting because it was published in 2011 and I had no clue it existed until this year. And I just happened to stumble across it. 

LOOKING AHEAD…
1) One book you didn’t get to in 2013 but will be your number 1 priority in 2014?
S. by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst. I just got this for Christmas and I am beyond excited to read it!
2) Book you are most anticipating for 2014?
Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
3) One thing you hope to accomplish or do in you r reading/blogging in 2014?
-Blog more regularly
-Meet my Goodreads reading goal
-Read all those books I own, but have yet to open. 

The Saddest Book I Have Ever Read

Hi Book Lovers!

I have been known to shed a tear or two when I read sad books. Don’t even get my started on the waterworks that come every time I read The Fault in our Stars! But I have recently broken my record for length of time crying due to fiction. The winner of this title is none other than The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

I had heard really good things about this book before I picked it up and have been wanting to read it for a while. Opportunity presented itself while I perused one of my housemates bookshelves while she packed to go home for the holidays. When I saw it I was so excited to borrow it. I was so naive. So unready for what this meant for my future. But, here I am, a mere 24 hours after completion telling you all about my reading experience.

The Book Thief takes place in Nazi Germany. We meet our main character Liesel as she is being transported to a foster family in Molching. The story follows her over the next four years of her life as she learns about the power of words, the joy of stealing, and the importance of friendship. Many of this lessons taught by the Jewish man her family is hiding in their basement.

I have said it before and I will say it again, I thoroughly enjoy a book that brings tears to my face. As much as I kept telling myself how stupid this book was I loved it.

First off, the writing was beautiful. I just loved the sentence structure and word choice. Narrated by Death, this book has an interesting take on the war. One of my favorite parts is when Death is talking about how everyone thinks war is his favorite thing, but in reality it’s like a cruel boss that overworks you everyday. I love that! What an interesting new perspective.

Also, the relationships throughout this book are so genuine and full of love. Liesel moved to a whole new town with a completely new family when she was ten years old. That would be so hard. And yet she is able to form such strong bonds with the people that surround her. Including a man her government tells her she should despise.

Lastly, I think all fellow book lovers can relate to the power and magic of words that we see in this book. I, for one, now what it’s like to crave fiction written across pages and bound at the spine. Liesel loves her books more than anything. She reads them countless times over and even uses them to soothe restless souls during the air raids. We also see the dirty side of words.

And I cried so much! I am pretty sure there were tears in my eyes for the last 200 pages.

I give The Book Thief by Markus Zusak five out of five stars. If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought! I would love to discuss it with you.

Happy new year and happy reading,

Sam