Caitlin’s #CBR5 #57: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

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I did not like this very much. It was just kind of gross and weird, which was sad because the premise is really good. You can read my review here.

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Popcultureboy’s #CBR5 Review #105: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

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Because reading one YA novel dealing with cancer this year simply wasn’t enough. I had to have more. And effing eff, am I glad I read this book. Of course, everyone else in the world already has read it, so you all know how bloody wonderful it is. But don’t let that stop you reading my full review. It’s on my blog here.

taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #52: Before I Die by Jenny Downham

 

 

 

 

**Finished my third Cannonball!!! I actually finished the last book in early December, but I’ve been slacking on my last couple of reviews. It was a pleasure to read everyone’s reviews this year and be part of this community.

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Cannonball Read V: Book #52/52
Published: 2007
Pages: 336

Genre: Young Adult
Tessa is dying from leukemia and decides to make a list of things she wants to do before she dies. She enlists of one of her friends to help her and eventually brings her neighbor into the fold as she grows closer to him. Some of the things on her list are what you’d expect from a teenager – sex, fall in love, etc. But most of the things on the list were kind of weird, such as shoplifting. Who wants to shoplift before they die?

I had a hard time with this book. Some parts of it were very good – such as her family dealing with her illness and now her rebellion just before she dies (she stays out all night, jumps into a freezing river, joyrides without a license in her dad’s car – just to name a few). The ending was also beautifully written. Even though you know what’s going to happen, it doesn’t make it any less emotional.

Read the rest in my blog.

taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #51: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

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Cannonball Read V: Book #51/52
Published: 2009
Pages: 391

Genre: Young Adult/Dystopian

This is going to be a short review because this series has been reviewed to death already and this is a re-read for me. I wanted to read it again before I saw the movie since I already forgot half of what happened since I last read it several years ago. I’m not going to re-hash the plot, because if you don’t already know it you’ve probably been living under a rock for the past two years.

Read the rest in my blog.

Funkyfacecat’s #CBR5 Review #13: Heartburn by Nora Ephron

Rachel Samstat is a chef who’s been on TV, and a bemused but witty heroine/narrator. She finds out that her husband is having an affair…and she happens to be pregnant. From these simple beginnings emerges a frothy but sharp lemon cheesecake of a novel–light and creamy on top, infused with tartness, and grounded in the buttery biscuits of warmth and insight which evoked in me nods, smiles and sighs of recognition.

In Heartburn, divorce doesn’t lead to self-conscious self-discovery and life-changing experiences Eat Pray Love-style, or graphic sexual odyssey à la Fear of Flying. It’s a quieter, more humorous take on the muddles that people get themselves into, and the ways in which they survive heartbreak and separation. The book is set among the upper-middle-class, if such a designation is appropriate for American literature set in artistic New York and the political circles of Washington, but the emotional resonance of the novel, the pain and confusion of adultery and divorce and the split-second moments of clarity, as well as its commentary on the behaviour of the entitled male, is amusing and perhaps, to some extent, universal.

I’d recommend it if you like Julie and Julia (the book or the film), or Sex and the City (the series, not the films *brrr*). It’s a niche sort of book–less saccharine than some of the films she was involved in–the most acerbic bits and crackle from When Harry Met Sally come closest to the tone. Heartburn gains added interest because it was based on her second marriage and the fallout that followed, and it also contains recipes which look rather tasty.

 

(Note: I read this a while ago, so the details are a bit skimpy – do check out this great review of Heartburn by Loulamac.)

Funkyfacecat’s #CBR5 Review #12: Embassytown by China Miéville

Embassytown is at the edge of the “immer”, an outpost of the Bremen empire, and at the border between the Ariekei and the humans on the planet Arieka. It is clearly science fiction, verging towards dystopian science fiction, but it’s also about colonialism, about the alien and the other, and about words and signs and truth and lies and revolutions that change the meaning of all of these. Negotiating between the Ariekei, or Hosts, who are the aliens, and the mostly-human community are the Ambassadors, who we gradually find out are sets of doubled, identical beings who speak “Language” with two voices but one brain, the only form of communication that the aliens, who are alien to the point of not even breathing oxygen–or being physically or mentally capable of lying, of saying that something is not what it is but something else–can understand.

Drifting among the power structures, danger zones and levels of communication in Embassytown, is Avice, a girl who made an unusual contact with the alien race early in her life, and who becomes a Navigator in the “immer,” able to transport vessels in a nebulous, shifting space among the stars and planets that make up the universe. On one planet she finds Scile, a linguist obsessed with the Host alien language and way of communication, and brings him in her wake back to Arieka. Scile’s investigation and idealism happens to coincide with the appearance of an impossible Ambassador from Bremen, and the results are ultimately disturbing and destructive in moral and ethical as well as physical ways.

Embassytown is a trippy read. A lot of it makes more sense if you’re familiar with the sign and signified and other Derridean stuff, or if you’re used to reading or watching science fiction in which obscure or made-up words describe technology, environment and aliens. It takes a while to get into, but I was gripped when I finally did. Although the novel is more about ideas than people, there is some relatable emotion and experience, particularly as events unfold, but I found it hard to get a sense of Avice and the other characters as more than ciphers. I admired it and enjoyed it as an intellectual rather than emotional or escapist read, thinking about its allusions and structures (probably because I read it two days before I had to teach it) and I’m sure I missed a lot of what was going on. It’s a dark, weird, thought-provoking novel about big questions, without any easy answers.

Popcultureboy’s #CBR5 Review #104: The Woman Who Died A Lot by Jasper Fforde

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After a disappointing book for my first Cannonball, I really wanted an ace book for the double. But I chose badly. In this seventh entry of the Thursday Next series, Fforde drives his creation right off the literary cliff. It’s a clumsy and over plotted mess. Such a shame. The full review is on my blog here.