Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Synopsis (Goodreads):

For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.

Review:

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson is a gripping and heart-wrenching journey through the effects of PTSD on a man, Andy, and his 17 year old daughter, Hayley. Andy loves his daughter, but is haunted by ghosts of his past. As a result he relies on alcohol and drugs to try to combat the memories that are tearing him apart on a daily basis, leaving Hayley to care for him as if she was the parent.

Hayley, the narrator of the book finds herself torn between having a “normal” teenage life, taking care and worrying about her war-torn father, and memories of her own past. She does so with dignity and courage, despite her inability to trust anyone around her, not even her closest friends. She often pushes the people who care about her the most away in order to self-preserve and take care of her father, to try to keep his illness a secret from her schoolmates and teachers.

I love how raw The Impossible Knife of Memory is. Laurie Halse Anderson writes in such a realistic manner that I often found myself staring at the page at the end of a chapter with my mouth open in utter shock and disbelief. Both Hayley  and Andy’s lives are difficult, they are both teetering on the edge and are barely able to hold themselves and one another up. This is especially apparent in the chapters written from Andy’s perspective, where we get a peek at the horrifying things that he experienced during his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While the book itself has heavy themes and material, I love the hope that Laurie Halse Anderson brings into her storytelling. Hayley desperately needs hope, and finds it through her new friend, Finn as romance blossoms between them. While his life is also troubled, Finn tries to crack Hayley’s tough exterior to get to know her and show her that there is hope for her and for her father.

Laurie Halse Anderson is one of the most influential authors in Young Adult literature for a reason. She writes about real issues faced by teens and she doesn’t sugar coat or talk down to her readers. She tackles the tough shit, issues that are “taboo,” ones that people don’t want to talk about, but that need to be brought to the forefront (yet does so in a sensitive manner). Her words can make you laugh out loud one minute (Hayley’s comparison of her classmates to zombies), punch you in the gut the next (the chapters written from Andy’s perspective), and shortly after have you in tears because of something that was written so beautifully or something that is so heart-wrenching that you can’t help but tear up.

I can’t give The Impossible Knife of Memory enough praise. Not only was it a beautiful and well-written book that tackled very difficult subjects, Laurie Halse Anderson has drawn from her own life experiences and what she saw her father go through as a veteran with PTSD. While reading it, it was almost impossible to find a decent place to stop reading and go back to work (go to bed, make/eat dinner, clean). Laurie Halse Anderson has written yet another masterpiece.

5/5 stars

Find The Impossible Knife of Memory at your local bookstore or online at

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My friend Chrissi also read/reviewed this book! Check out what she thought here! And keep an eye out for our blog feature on The Impossible Knife of Memory!

Blog Tour: Review – Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh by Katie Hamstead

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Synopsis:

When Naomi’s sisters are snatched up to be taken to be wives of the erratic Pharaoh, Akhenaten, she knows they won’t survive the palace, so she offers herself in their place. The fearsome Commander Horemheb sees her courage, and knows she is exactly what he is looking for…

The Great Queen Nefertiti despises Naomi instantly, and strips her of her Hebrew lineage, including her name, which is changed to Kiya. Kiya allies herself with Horemheb, who pushes her to greatness and encourages her to make the Pharaoh fall in love with her. When Akhenaten declares Kiya will be the mother of his heir, Nefertiti, furious with jealousy, schemes to destroy Kiya.

Kiya must play the deadly game carefully. She is in a silent battle of wills, and a struggle for who will one day inherit the crown. If she does bear an heir, she knows she will need to fight to protect him, as well as herself, from Nefertiti who is out for blood.

Review:

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that Katie Hamstead was looking for book bloggers to participate in her blog tour for Kiya. While looking into the book a little more I discovered that it was a new adult novel that takes place in Ancient Egypt and had to see if I could participate.

Overall Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh was a great read and it was much different than any other NA book that I have read in the past. Most of the NA that I have been exposed to is contemporary romance (not that there is anything wrong with that) and I was excited to see a historical fiction New Adult novel. Kiya did have some elements of romance, but I loved that there was so much more than a love or lust story here.

As a character Kiya was both brave and strong. She was smart, compassionate, and she never lost sight of what she thought was important: better treatment of the Pharaoh’s wives, her family and her faith. She had a good head on her shoulders and understood the cunning ways of those around her.

The other characters that Katie Hamstead has created are equally as developed and help to add many layers to the story. Mordad provided much comic relief throughout the story as the wise-cracking woman who didn’t take crap from anyone. Nefertiti was the evil queen who I loved to hate. I celebrated Kiya’s victories over Nefertiti, both small and large.

While I did enjoy reading Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, there were a few things that I didn’t quite like. For example, in the beginning Kiya volunteers to go with the Egyptians to marry the Pharaoh, in order to spare her younger sisters the experience. While this is a very noble thing to do, I couldn’t help but have thoughts of The Hunger Games while reading .  A second issue I had with the novel is that sometimes the passage of time was not clearly noted in the text. Sometimes time passed within a chapter, which had me taken aback at first until I realized what had happened. I didn’t notice this while reading the novel until closer to the end, which I think it is why I was slightly confused by this change in writing style.

Overall, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh was a much different New Adult read than I am accustomed to. It took place in a beautiful historic setting with just enough imagery and description that I could picture everything in my head. I loved the characters and wanted to see what would happen to them throughout the course of the novel.

Find Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh online

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Find Katie Hamstead Online:

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Read my interview with Katie Hamstead here!!!

Blog Tour: Review- These Things About Us by Laura Beege

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Synopsis:

Antonia is leaving the last shards of her life in Tucson behind to find her mother and start over. Turns out that’s easier said than done. London is a pretty big city, a hundred bucks don’t get you far and you can’t just make your past disappear.
When sweet and caring uni student Wesley gets her a job and a room in his father’s pub, Tony is unprepared for his older brother Trace who despises her at first sight. She’s unprepared for someone whose secrets might be darker than her own.
Following a path of breadcrumbs and tangling up in Trace’s past, Tony slips back into a world she thought she’d escaped the day her father went to prison.TheseThingsAboutUs-Cover

Review:

These Things About Us is a touching story about an eighteen year old’s struggle to find her mother and discover who she truly is. I found myself being able to relate to Antonia (aka Tony) throughout the story. We all have things about our pasts that we are embarrassed to share and/or want to hide from the people around us, which makes Tony’s story a universal one.

After Tony’s father is thrown in prison she becomes a “bad girl gone good.” She desperately wants to separate herself from her old life to the point of resisting everything and anything that reminds her of her past. While to the people around her Tony may seem perfect, on the inside she struggles and hates that she is drawn to “bad boy” Trace.
I liked Tony as a character and found it easy to get into her head and become immersed in her story. However, I wanted to learn more about her past, more about what made her take such a drastic 180° change. My favorite thing about her was that she grew as a character and you saw the person she wanted to be vs. the person she truly is.

Trace on the other hand, is a bad boy with a huge chip on his shoulder. He immediately dislikes Tony, has a violent and unpredictable temper, and has a string of women in and out of his room. While Trace is a jerk, I like that Laura Beege has given us a glimpse of his past and home life. Similar to what is  seen in the real world, Trace acts the way he does for a reason and while I don’t feel that this justifies his abusive and violent behavior it helps to explain his issues.

I like the way that the author has developed the characters in These Things About Us. She shows the good and bad sides of them and doesn’t leave them as one-dimensional cookie-cutter characters. They each had their faults and flaws which I thought made them extremely realistic. While I was left with questions, I genuinely cared about the characters in this novel and wanted to know what happened to them long after I finished reading.

The plot was paced well and I wasn’t bored with the action for one moment. Actually I read the majority of the book in one sitting and surprised myself when I looked up and saw how much time had passed. While this wasn’t an extremely emotional read, there were some very gripping scenes in the novel that tugged at my heartstrings.

Overall These Things About Us was a very good Summer read and it left me wanting more (please give us a sequel). There were a few slight issues I had with it, but nothing worth complaining over!

Rating 4/5 stars! A great summer read for people ages 17  to their midtwenties!

Check out my video interview with the author, Laura Beege!

Find Laura Beege Online!TheseThingsAboutUs-LauraBeegePhoto

Laura’s Website

Twitter- @LauraBeege

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You can purchase These Things About Us in the following places

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Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray is Pos-i-toot-ly Fabulous

7728889Synopsis:

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.”

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn’t catch her first.

 

Review:

The Diviners was one of those books that I had a difficult time putting down after I started reading. The premise of it immediately hooked me- a young girl with unexplainable secret powers being sent to live in Manhattan with her Uncle, while terrifying murders are being committed. It made me want to skip work and stay awake until I finished reading

The setting is what first struck me. I haven’t read many contemporary YA books that are set during the Roaring Twenties. But Libba Bray pulled it off and wrote an intriguing book that shows just how good she is at doing her research. Even the 1920s lingo is sprinkled throughout the novel.

I found both the plot and the characters to be fascinating. While Evie O’Neill and her “lingo” annoyed me at times, I realize that to have a believable story set in the 1920s the language needs to be consistent. I loved how independent, smart, and sassy Evie was (even if it did get her into trouble at times). She could also be a stubborn and selfish character, but Bray has created a multi-dimensional and believable character that overall is very likeable. I enjoyed reading the backstories of all of the main characters and learning about their motivations and pasts throughout the novel, especially that of Theta who remains a bit of  a mystery to me. I hope to learn more about her and am excited to see how each of these characters will grow as The Diviners Series progresses.

Not only did The Diviners have excellent protagonists, but the antagonist was absolutely terrifying. Without giving anything away, he was enough to give me some pretty creepy dreams. However, he was original, unique, and interesting. I haven’t read another novel that had an antagonist quite like him.

I didn’t have many complaints about this novel. There were points that dragged a bit but they didn’t last long. I made myself look past all of the pos-i-toot-lies and allowed myself to get dragged into the story and into the horror. This might not have been the light summer read that I was looking for but it was fabulous.

The Diviners was a thrilling blend of the paranormal and historical fiction. It was a page-turning adventure that made me race to the end to find out what happened to Evie and her friends. I highly recommend it to both young adult and adult readers, especially those who like getting the creepy-crawlies while reading.

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The Book Thief Review!

Good Morning! I decided to put together a quick post for you this morning about one of my favorite books, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Check out my video review (discussion about the book), followed by two book trailers that I thought described the book very well!

Let’s chat! Have you read it, if so what did you think? If not— I think you should!

 

The above book trailer gave me the chills (so good!)