Tag Archives: Tahereh Mafi

RTW: Book of the Month for April, 2013

Every month, the YA Highway team invite people to pick their favorite read from the past month and talk about it as part of their Road Trip Wednesday blog hop. Well, today’s the day we answer the question…

What was the best book you read in April?

I read some good books in April, but the hands-down winner was…

UNRAVEL ME by Tahereh Mafi. No surprise, perhaps, given that Tahereh’s SHATTER ME was my book of the year for 2012. First, a brief, spoiler-free teaser of the story without giving anything away for those who haven’t yet read SHATTER ME: Stuff happens.

Okay, let’s see if I can do better than that. Here’s what I said in my Goodreads review:

This second book in the series picks up with Juliette having joined with those resisting The Reestablishment. Aside from struggling with her own insecurities, learning about herself, her power, and what possible use she might be to the resistance, she also has to deal with trust issues, making friends, and the increasingly awkward situation with Adam and Warner… which doesn’t get any better!

Tahereh Mafi writes such poetic prose, and while I’m not a big poetry fan (see RTW two weeks ago), this is poetry I can really appreciate. There’s so much feeling and depth to the writing, you can’t help but connect with Juliette, the MC and first-person narrator. If studying poetry can make you this good of a writer, then I need to study more poetry.

A couple of points about the book that didn’t sit well with me. First, the romantic stuff–the hot-and-heavy scenes–while beautifully and tastefully written, went on a bit too long, IMO. After a while I started to feel uncomfortable, like I was the awkward third person at the table–what we used to call a “gooseberry.” I understand the plot point being made by these scenes, the need to show the emotional attachment between the characters, but, as I said, I think Tahereh and her silken pen got a little carried away with themselves.

Another thing that threw me out of the story a bit was our initial introduction to Brendan, an English character. He seems to be relatively young, but the first line out of his mouth is, “Winston’s always a bit beastly this early in the morning.” There is no way any English person I know would ever refer to someone as “beastly”–unless they’re trying to be humorous, and I’m sure the joke would be lost on his largely American audience. It reads to  me as if Tahereh was trying to convey his “British-ness” and resorted to stereotypical “British” vocabulary to do so. If I’m right, this failed BIG TIME. He might as well have said, “Alright, guvnah! You seen any bobbies around, or are we ready to tally-ho and eat some bangers?” My entire secondary education (11-18 years old) was at an English “public school” (i.e., centuries-old private school)–the kind of place where you might expect to hear people talk like that. Not one, of my peers used that kind of language, except in parody–they weren’t serious.

All that said, this is an excellent book, a worthy successor to SHATTER ME, and I’m really really looking forward to the forthcoming novella (as yet untitled, to be released later this year) and the final installment of the story (also as yet untitled, to be released next year–*sigh*). I highly recommend it.

Do you have thoughts to share about UNRAVEL ME? What was your favorite read in April? You can comment below, or join the Road Trip (see the YA Highway blog for details).

RTW: Book of the Month for January, 2013

It’s that time again! Every month, the YA Highway team ask us to select our favorite read from the past month and write about it for the weekly Road Trip Wednesday meme.

Hands down, the best book I read in January was ON WRITING by Stephen King. But this was the third or fourth time I’ve read it, so even though it’s a great book, I’m not going to count it. Sorry Stephen!

Of the remaining books, my favorite reads of the month were actually two novellas: GLITCHES by Marissa Meyer, and DESTROY ME by Tahereh Mafi. Both of these are tie-ins with the authors’ current series, written to expand upon what has already happened, not to further the plot.

GLITCHES is a prequel to CINDER, describing Cinder’s first encounter with her step family. Marissa’s characters are so engaging, and Cinder is a truly delightful MC. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It’s a shame it was so short, but it certainly amped up the anticipation for SCARLET, the second part of her Lunar Chronicles series. You don’t have to read GLITCHES before reading SCARLET, but it’s worth reading anyway.

DESTROY ME is very different in tone to GLITCHES. Rather than giving back story to SHATTER ME, Tahereh picks up the story from the end of SHATTER ME, but from the perspective of a different character, namely Warner. I won’t say too much more about the plot in case you have yet to read SHATTER ME. Suffice to say, Tahereh show us a new dimension to Warner, and even helps us understand him better–and perhaps even have some sympathy for him? This is much longer than GLITCHES, and very well written.

If I had to choose between the two, DESTROY ME would just get the edge, simply because I thought Tahereh did a great job of adding depth to Warner’s character, and giving us a very different perspective on things… and that’s all I’m saying.

What were your favorite reads in January? Comment here, or participate in the Road Trip (details on how to join in are on the YA Highway blog).

Book of the Year for 2012

Happy New Year to you!

Thank you to those of you who commented on the list of contenders for this year’s Book of the Year. Bear in mind, these are not necessarily books written or published in 2012, but books I read in 2012. And I read some really good books last year. Choosing one from those contenders was harder than trying to explain Rihanna’s song “S & M” to my teenage daughter. But I made my choice. When a decision is this close, I look for something–perhaps even something small–that gives one book the edge over the others. In this case, what gave my choice the edge was the voice. I found it unique and very readable. It got me inside the main character’s head in a way I hadn’t encountered before. So, without further ado, the best novel I read last year is…

SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi. Well done, Tahereh, for writing such an awesome book. I look forward to reading the rest of the series. The novella, DESTROY ME is out already, and the second installment of the series, UNRAVEL ME comes out in February. Both are on my TBR list. (Click here for my Goodreads review of the novel.)

If you haven’t read SHATTER ME, or perhaps you did, but it was borrowed from a friend or the library, and would like to own this wonderful book for your very self, I am giving away a copy. Yes, you can win a copy of this book! I have added a page to the blog (look at the tabs above, next to “Awards”, and you’ll see one that says “Book of the Year 2012 Giveaway”). Click on that, or click on this link, to go to the Rafflecopter widget to enter the giveaway. You don’t have to jump through a lot of hoops to enter. The giveaway is about the book, not me and my blog, so you get a point simply for wanting to enter, and a point if you Tweet about the giveaway. The raffle is open from Noon today until Midnight, January 20th (i.e., the minute after 11:59 pm on January 19th), US Eastern Time.

Thank you to everyone who has read my blog over the past year, whether it’s because you subscribed, or because you stumbled across it one lonely night when you were looking for pictures of the Harry Potter books. I hope this little corner of the internet has been helpful, or at least entertaining for you, and you’ll come back and visit again. Often.

RTW: Book of the Month for May, 2012

Okay, Ladies and Gentlemen, get out your TBR lists because it’s Book of the Month week on Road Trip Wednesday! In case you don’t know, Road Trip Wednesday is a meme hosted by YA Highway. Each week, the YA Highway team post a question or topic on their blog, and invite bloggers to respond on their blogs and link to their posts in the RTW comments. The “Road Trip” part is where we all visit everyone’s blogs to see how they responded.

May was an unusual month for me in two ways. First, I read ten books, which is about twice as many as I usually get through. Yes, this means I didn’t get much writing done in May, but I really wanted to get caught up on my reading. The second way May was unusual for me was that 8 of the 10 books I read were dystopian (okay, strictly speaking one was probably more post-apocalyptic). I didn’t plan this–it started with reading INSURGENT and went on from there. So here are the eight dystopian books I read:

I’ve posted reviews on Goodreads for all these books except THE HUNGER GAMES, which was a re-read… and I didn’t review it the first time, which I should have done, and I could go ahead and post a review now… but I’m being lazy. Maybe another time. Suffice to say–five stars, excellent book. Each one of the other book pictures links to my Goodreads review of that book.

I started out the month with INSURGENT, and finished with the godfather of dystopia himself: George Orwell. And in between I read some excellent books (as you can tell from the reviews). Two of these books, however, really stood out. As you might guess if you are regular to this blog, INSURGENT was one of them, and I expected it to be the hands-down, no-contest book of the month. But then one of the others really caught my attention and, I think, gave Veronica Roth some serious competition. Seriously. I was surprised. In fact, Book of the Month was a much closer call this time than I expected it to be. So, my shout out for May is…

INSURGENT by Veronica Roth. What??! It didn’t get Book of the Month?? I told you–close call, but the book I chose for Book of the Month was, I think, just as well-written and page turning, but also had a stroke of originality about it that just eclipsed the otherwise completely brilliant sequel to DIVERGENT. My book of the month choice for May is…

SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi. What really struck me about this book was the voice–that elusive thing agents keep telling aspiring authors we need to get right, but never seem to be able to define exactly what it is. I think this book shows us quite expertly what the “voice” thing is all about. The protagonist, Juliette, has been in isolation for 264 days. She has been locked inside her own head for most of a year with no-one paying her much attention. She has also gone for years without knowing the touch of another person. How could these factors not have a psychological impact on her? Her internal dialog and the way her mind wanders into metaphor and simile to me echo her mental state perfectly. I think a number of people who have been critical of Tahereh’s style have failed to account for this. Tahereh has captured the voice of an unusual person in an unusual situation. If Juliette had sounded like a Katniss Everdeen, or a Tris Prior, or a Tally Youngblood, she would have been completely unbelievable. I’m looking forward to the companion novella coming out in October, and the next novel in the series coming out early next year (i.e., Not. Soon. Enough!).

What was your favorite read in May?

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring Reads

My blog friend Jaime Morrow is participating in the Tuesday Top Ten over at The Broke and the Bookish. This seems like a fairly easy meme to participate in given the pile of books on my TBR list, so I thought I’d join in (yes, I know it’s not on the schedule… schedules are made to be broken, aren’t they?). Anyway, here’s my top ten:

  • INSURGENT by Veronica Roth. Not out until May, but eagerly anticipated!
  • TANGLED by Erica O’Rourke. I enjoyed TORN, so I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next.
  • THE FUTURE OF US by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler. The premise is intriguing (kids in 1996 find their future Facebook pages). I’ve been looking forward to reading this for a while.
  • NUMB by Sean Ferrell. Another intriguing premise (a man who has no memory and feels no pain tries to piece together what happened to him).
  • LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green. I’ve read a couple of John Green books, and I need to read more. His books are an education on how to write well, especially for Young Adult.
  • MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs. Again, it’s the premise that gets my attention, but this has also been reviewed positively by so many people, I can’t ignore it.
  • SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi. Another book that has received a lot of positive attention. I’m told the prose style is unusual too, so I anticipate a learning experience.
  • EXTRAS by Scott Westerfeld. I’ve read the UGLIES series, and have put off reading this “extra” for long enough!
  • PURGATORY CHASM by Steve Ulfelder. Nominated for an Edgar–I have to find out what the fuss is about.
  • THE PERICLES COMMISSION by Gary Corby. A murder-mystery set in Ancient Greece? This I’ve got to read!

You might notice I linked the titles to Goodreads so you can get more details.

I could have added a bunch more books, but what with writing, family, work, and so on, I’ll be happy if I hit the Summer having got through this lot.

What books are on your Spring TBR list?

Book Title Poetry

Literary agent Janet Reid, is hosting a competition on her blog. Well, I should say was hosting, since the competition closed today. Inspired by Tahereh Mafi, she asked those entering to create a poem using titles of books. While some additional words could be used, each line of the poem had to contain a book title. Further, each entrant had to supply a photograph of the books with his/her entry. You can go to Janet’s site and see the ones she has posted so far. I’m by no means a poet, but this sounded fun, so I had a go. My entry should appear on Janet’s blog sometime in the not-too-distant future, but for those who can’t wait, here it is:

A PASSION FOR TRUTH,

a SECOND GLANCE

UNDER THE DOME,

LIKE MANDARIN

IN SEARCH OF DIGNITY,

THE LAST JUROR

was SURPRISED BY JOY