Friday, December 19, 2014

Eleanor & Park

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 1:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Young Adult
Category: Historical; romance
Rating: 5 stars


Melissa Thinks: Our two titular characters are portrayed as two sixteen year olds struggling to fit in with high school life. There’s Eleanor, the quirky red head who has a problematic home life and a style that warrants the attention of bullies. And then there’s Park: the cute and nerdy half-Korean boy who has trouble relating to his more popular friends and classmates. Together, the two of them must overcome the obstacles that life throws at them. How far will they go to protect each other and their “adolescent” love?

This Printz award winning novel includes vital themes such as: bullying, racism, body-image, abuse, and neglect. At the same time, Rainbow Rowell still somehow manages to keep her readers laughing with quick wit and geeky references.

From the start, the author makes it very clear that this novel does not take place in present time. With the mention of tape players, vinyl records, vintage comics – we are almost instantly aware that we are reading a book that takes place in the 80’s: bad hair and punk rock included.

What I love about E&P is that it’s not simply a love story; it’s an accurate portrayal of life as a teenager and the struggles that teens face every day, though you may not even realize it at first glance. Eleanor’s family plays a huge role in this book. Through her experiences we learn what it’s like to live in an abusive household and how that can affect a person and the ones around them. Park’s family has their own troubles as well. His parents are realistically portrayed as an interracial couple. His father constantly berates him for being too “girly” and often insinuates that he’s gay. Park’s friends don’t seem to understand his relationship with Eleanor which creates some shame and paranoia for him in the beginning of the book.

Eleanor & Park is without a doubt the best book I’ve read this year. The alternating point of views gives a clear and almost poetic picture of Eleanor and Park’s relationship. There is no insta-love here – the relationship starts off slow and burns brighter as the story moves along. I was so emotionally invested in this book, to a point where I stayed up all night to finish it even though I had a class that morning.

With a movie deal on the way and a string of cities already banning it from public school English classes, this is not a book you want to wait around to read.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Chai and a Pinch of Salt

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 8:37 PM 0 comments
Chai and a Pinch of Salt by bulletproof.cupid

It's funny the things you learn about a person after they die. I loved him once. Could I love him again? -Young Sofia has just come back to Pakistan, lured by her father's death. Can she overcome her grief? Moreover, can she trust herself not to fall in love with the one person she can never have? Love has never been so tempting. The tale of a girl and her once-upon-a-time servant.Banner Credit: Atramento

Melissa Thinks: In the ongoing fictional story "Chai and a Pinch of Salt", the reader is immersed in a culture that we don't often read about on FictionPress or even in published novels. Sofia returns to Pakistan after the sudden death of her father. Here she lives with her many cousins, her uncle, the servants, and her childhood best friend Zafar. The theme of family is pervasive throughout the text and, although romance does not play a large part in this story, it does exist within it. Sofia deals with the loss of her father, a man she was just beginning to know, and the grief that comes with his death. She's faced with the aftermath of her departure from Pakistan 15 years earlier; how her father has seemingly moved on, how her childhood friend is very much a different boy, and how life in Pakistan compares to her life in London.

Beautiful flowing descriptions help to reel the reader in. Once you start, it's hard to stop reading as the delicate writing keeps you addicted. I honestly enjoy learning about Pakistani culture, language, and customs from this story and it feels like the author tries hard to teach you about the main character's life without being too invasive. Even though there's a depressive nature to the plot, bulletproof.cupid is adept at slipping in little pieces of humor to amuse her readers. Sofia has a strong voice and is an attractive character, yet is flawed, which is one of the best things about the story. Reading about her emotions - her anger, loss, jealousy, guilt, gives her life and gives the story a defining quality.

I only have one complaint, and it's not really a complaint, but the chapters are about 2k words long each and I just find myself craving more at every end I come to. Although the grammar could use some tweaks, the author is seemingly very open to critique and constructive criticism, so I encourage everyone to help this budding author out.

Friday, December 5, 2014

What I Loved

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 1:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Adult
Category: Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars


Helen Thinks: What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt is a story told from the point of view of Leo, a middle aged art critic, who one day buys a painting from an artist called Bill Wechsler. Through his feelings for the painting, both intrigued and yet disturbed, Leo finds himself coming close to the artist as well as to his wife, Lucille, who is a poet. Along with his own wife, Erica, the four become firm friends and are living in the same apartment block and having meals where they talk about art and their ideas. Their bond also happens to find them having boys, Matt and Mark, at approximately the same time. The book follows their lives as Bill falls in love with one of his models, Violet, and eventually leaves Lucille and Mark to live with her, through the death of Matt at a summer camp when is eleven years old, through the falter of Leo and Erica's marriage due to the tragedy and mist importantly, through how Leo's relationship with Mark becomes more important to him.

With a keen focus on not only the characters but each individual as an artist or an academic, Hustvedt has created characters that allow us to fall deeply into and find ourselves relating to and understanding as they try to find rationale in places where they could be no need for such thing. Each moment that causes their firm friendship to fall further apart can be felt as you read, your breath catching in your throat and your heart aching as you pray that things will sort itself in the end.

Much like Leo and the painting he bought, I happened to read this book because I was in the library and I was captured by the art on the front cover. It was an incredible, heartbreaking read that as the pages turned you found yourself wishing that it wouldn't mean you were nearing the end. I highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan or is looking for a new genre of book to try.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

SC deadline is extended

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 11:53 AM 0 comments
The Star-Cross'd deadline for this round was December 8, but is being extended to Saturday, December 13! With NaNo just having finished, I imagine that a bit of a breather would be needed for those who want to participate.

Most importantly, if you have any FP stories you would like to see reviewed on here, feel free to suggest them! With more suggestions, you will see more FP reviews being posted.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Emperor's Blades

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 1:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Adult
Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars


Rosie Thinks: The prologue of this story is concise, enthralling and brutal, and sets up the tone for the rest of the book. It follows the Emperor's three grown children, after his murder. Kaden, the heir, is in a remote monastery and struggling to master the austere lifestyle of the Shin, despite not knowing how this will prepare him for the throne. Valyn is training to join the most elite fighting unit in the world, the Kettral, and is beset by treachery on all sides. Our final MC, Adare, is in the capital trying to bring justice to the man who killed her father.

Usually in a story that switches POVs, there's always one character that I like the best - not in this story! I enjoyed all three, though probably Kaden and Valyn the best. Adare only got a few chapters, and I would really like to see her character more expanded in future books. With the way her story left off, I'm very excited for the next one! Despite Adare's character not being very fleshed out, Kaden and Valyn were explored in depth and grew into distinctive characters in my mind, with a lot of character development done over the course of the story. Each story thread has a range of characters, and serious kudos to Staveley for not making the big cast seem big - each minor character is individual and not once did I forget about one or get confused!

I was never bored in this story, but at the same time, the beginning didn't really draw me in (after the prologue, that is). I didn't truly feel for any of the characters until about a third of the way through. I kept reading, though, since the world-building is absolutely fantastic, and the actual plot was very interesting. The way that Staveley expanded the world of the Kettral and the Shin through the trials and lessons that the brothers endure is unique and very interesting. Because I wasn't completely taken in by this book, I was going to give it a three out of five, but the absolutely ridiculous ending made me bump it up to a four. The ending contains a few twists that make you rethink everything you know so far and it is one action-packed event after the other. I was a bit 'meh' about reading the second book when it comes out, but after that ending, I can't wait!

While there were no huge info dumps, I feel like a lot of this book was setting up the story and the characters for the next books. I can already tell that the second book is going to be intense and action-filled from the beginning to the end!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

WHWN: NaNo Edition

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 8:42 PM 0 comments
There is a WHWN scheduled for this Saturday, November 29 at 4pm EST! For those of you who are scrambling to wrap up your NaNoWriMo stories (or even if you're just looking to work on any of your writing), join us for the livechat.

It will provide you with moral support, word sprints, anything you'd need to help get you to that 50K! If you feel that you'll need a reminder for the event, head over to the WHWN page and insert your email to RSVP.

Also, if you have read any great FP stories, remember to suggest them!

Friday, November 21, 2014

1984

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 1:00 PM 0 comments
1984 by George Orwell

Age: Adult
Category: Classic
Rating: 5 stars


Marta Thinks: In order to read this masterpiece, you need to appreciate the history behind it. In 1917, civil war broke out in Russia and eventually the Bolsheviks gained power. By 1921, their Communist party was established, though its leader, Lenin, died, leaving two candidates: Trotsky and Stalin. Stalin was the underdog, only the General Secretary, but by 1926 he removed all former members of the government (his position as secretary allowed him to move his friends to influential positions), created trials to dismiss men with power and exiled Trotsky, who would later be described as a ‘Capitalist spy’ in history books. Stalin soon found himself in a position of power and the secret police and the cult of his image allowed him full control, which also spread a feeling of fear and uncertainty throughout the USSR. No one knew who to trust, no one knew what to do. Some people were tortured beyond pain imaginable and begged for the end to come, others were sent to concentration camps in Siberia, forced to work under harsh winter conditions and then left to die. At times, a person had committed no crime but was arrested nonetheless in order to fulfill a certain quota. Because of this, Stalin is responsible for 60 million deaths. To illustrate this point, there is an anecdote in which Stalin meets with a leader of an African nation and this leader asks: ‘How many people did you have to kill in order to establish your rule?’ Stalin tells him and this leader is astonished because it’s more than the number of people who live in his country.

However, before 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell and the secrets of the USSR were exposed, no one was aware of the chilling and inhumane acts that were committed. For instance, in 1980, when a book entitled Archipelago Gulag was published, describing the violence present within the nation and its concentration camps, there was much skepticism. After all, many socialists from Western European countries viewed the USSR as a country with the ideal government. Not much had changed since 1949 when Orwell, frustrated by his socialist acquaintances who dreamt of living in the USSR, wrote 1984 as a response. It was a perfectly haunting - and very real - description of the Communist states back then, and still is now.
 

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