Saturday, August 30, 2014

Say What You Will - Cammie McGovern (Review)

Say What You Will book cover
Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Source/Format: Edelweiss (Thanks Harper Collins!) || e-galley
[I received this book for review from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can't walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realized.

When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other's lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected. (from Goodreads)

“It’s not you, it’s me.” I pulled out this age old adage in my review of Say What You Will, because it feels relevant. There are a lot of things about this novel that, in theory, would have worked for me: the offbeat and unique main characters, the issues they face, the storytelling style. And yet, something just never clicked, even though I did finish. Even now, I can’t quite pinpoint what it is exactly that bugs me, so bear with me as I try.

As usual, here is a list of the things I liked about Say What You Will:
  • Concept – Okay, seriously, the concept behind this novel is pretty great. I was really looking forward to it after I read the synopsis the first time. It sounded clever, and different, and, admittedly, it was! I seriously liked the angle the author took in telling this story. 
  • Moments – There are a few moments that really stood out to me, moments that felt really special and wonderful and great for these characters. I loved how raw the emotions were at times, and how real everything felt. Plus, the ending really appealed to me and didn’t feel cliché in any way!
And here is the (pretty major) thing that didn't work for me with Say What You Will:
  • Characters – Honestly, I just never clicked for me with Amy or Matthew. I can definitely say that they were portrayed in a realistic light. However, I just didn’t like some of their actions, nor was I particularly able to connect with either one very well. I honestly felt pretty ambivalent towards both. Since this contemporary novel is predicated on working if you care for the characters, this just wound up becoming the reason I didn’t enjoy this one.

Still, in spite of my personal reaction, there is something about Say What You Will that has the potential to appeal to readers (as I know it did, for many of my friends). It might not have been my particular cup of tea, but it could be yours. So, if you think this story sounds intriguing or find yourself curious about these characters, I can encourage you to at least give it a shot!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Alexa & Judith's Epic Summer Read-Along || Wrap-Up

Wow! How has it already been two weeks? It's the last day of Alexa & Judith's Epic Summer Read-Along, which makes me so incredibly sad because it's been so much fun! Judith & I have truly enjoyed celebrating Morgan Matson & her novels, and we hope you've enjoyed seeing our posts. 

In case you missed out on any of them, allow me to include the full list here:
Also, don't forget to go over and say hi on Judith's wrap-up post for our event as well! And, if you're interested in Morgan's books, here are links to our reviews:
Thanks for coming along for the ride on our Epic Summer Read-Along! We've really loved seeing your comments, and having you join in on our post prompts with your thoughts too. And thanks to the wonderful Morgan Matson for writing these beautiful stories that inspired us, and for agreeing to our little interview!

Of Metal and Wishes - Sarah Fine (Review)

Of Metal and Wishes book cover
Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Source/Format: Publisher (Thank you S&S!) || ARC
[I received this book for review from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.

Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.

As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it. (from Goodreads)

I have never before read a Sarah Fine novel, but Of Metal and Wishes was definitely a good one to start with. When I began the novel, it was with the thought that I would "give it a shot". But, without warning, I found myself completely caught up in this retelling of The Phantom of the Opera. Fine does a fantastic job of writing a cohesive, compelling story.

The plot is very much like its source material, with characters assuming similar roles as in the original source material, albeit tweaked slightly to work with the setting. Indeed, what makes Fine's novel stand so strongly on its own merit lies in the details. She's thrown in Asian touches and steampunk bits to concoct something unique, and I find that she was successful in making this story her own.

Honestly, there are only two things that I encountered a bit of difficulty with: the characters and the pace. I didn't feel particularly connected to Wen, Malik, the Ghost or anyone else, and the beginning third was a touch too slow-paced for me. But there was definitely a turning point when this novel became something I just couldn't put down - and that's really what made me like it so by the end. If you're on the hunt for something a little different to read, or even a fan of the original Phantom of the Opera, you'd do well to give Of Metal and Wishes a shot.


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