The Moment Collector aka The Vanishing Season was supposed to haunt my dreams. It is, after all, marketed as a ghost story. The book was actually narrated by the loneliest ghost I've ever read about. I was only spooked one time, and it was during the very first time that I realized that the ghost is narrating the story.
I'm part of this house, and the residents can hear me in their sleep. I rattle the dishes and creak along the floors in the dark. I turn the lights on downstairs, though they're sure they turned them off when they went to bed. I watch a leg crash through the ceiling into the darkness and I reach out to touch it. But I have no hands, no arms, nothing I can see. I wonder if I ever did.
This book was very well-written. I started to admire Jodi Lynn Anderson's writing ever since I've read Tiger Lily, so when I saw this book up on NetGalley, I requested for it. Her writing felt like swimming in the consciousness of the ghost while she tells us the story of the friendship between three people : Maggie, Pauline, and Liam. Her prose is incredible, and even though this book didn't wow me, I was left with a good feeling inside after I finished the book.
This is definitely not a ghost story. When Maggie's family was plucked from Chicago to live in the house that they've inherited at Door County, Wisconsin, she thought that the house was basically derelict, and that her mother have a mission cut out for her. She misses her old life, and her best friend, Jacie, but she quickly became friends with her neighbor, Pauline. Maggie is mature for her age, she always thought about what's best for her and her family. She knows that they didn't have any money, so she knows not to burden her parents with her whims and wants. She was the kind of person who has yet to experience love. But there wasn't really anything compelling about her, and yet her character is very important. She made things move along in the story.
Pauline, Maggie found, is beautiful and child-like, and she is also wealthy. She mostly lives in the present, she is carefree, and her dreams changes weekly. She's beautiful, but is unaware of it. She says and does things that unintentionally hurt. And what I love about Pauline is the fact that she's not the pretty girl that you get to hate.
Then there's Liam, Pauline's childhood friend. Liam, who is desperately in love with Pauline since they were little. And the Liam that both girls loved. Yes, there is a love triangle in this book, but it's not the one that you will hate. I found him quite complicated, but he was presented as a simple gentleman. There is a part of the book that would make you want to slap him, but on the other hand, I completely understood why it had to happen.
The mystery that surrounded the book did feel a little bit like The Lovely Bones. Teen girls started disappearing from Door County when winter came, and the people were given a curfew as a security measure. Besides that fact, nothing really happens at Gill Creek. That was all the mystery that you can get. It almost felt like a backdrop of a coming-of-age story. It even felt like that particular element in the story could have been dropped, and the story will still go on. Pauline, Maggie, and Liam still continued with their usual activities, like canoeing, eating s'mores, and building saunas in the woods. Maggie still kept doing her every day runs. Pauline still walks with her dog, Abe. And Liam still does the household chores. What confused me the most was the fact that there were murders happening, clearly it's a serial killer, but it doesn't seem to affect the trio. Maggie believed that it couldn't happen to her. And I worried for both girls because it felt like something really bad was going to happen.
And I think something is coming for one of these girls, or both. I think I’m here to save them.
And the ending, was such a sad one. I didn't expect it, but as it slowly sank in, I felt like I've always known, I just didn't consider it.
We were promised a ghost story, a mystery even. But I felt like the mystery was unresolved, and the story didn't haunt me at all. The plot was aimless, really. But you will surely love the well-developed characters. You will love the delicateness of how Anderson told the story in a poignant way. I've never lived in a place where there are cold winters, but this book did make me feel so cold and chilled to the bone with the vividness of the atmosphere from the beautiful writing. I felt the isolation of the county, and the bite of icy coldness. For those who are in love with beautiful writing and tragic endings, read this book. Even though it was slow, it was definitely beautiful. Yes, I've used beautiful a lot, because JLA's writing is just that - beautiful.
Love can't be taken back once it's given.
Thank you Hachette Children's Books (Books With Bite UK) for the digital galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.
How much did it hurt? It was like a million paper cuts on my heart.
The Truth About Alice wasn't an easy read. It tackled different sensitive social issues, such as abortion, teenage drinking and drunk driving, sexuality, slut shaming, and the effects of spreading false rumors. My initial rating was 2 stars. I know! A lot of book bloggers gave this a 4 or 5, but I had issues. I did like the multiple POVs, and even though they all talked about their perceptions of Alice, my major issue was my total disconnection towards her. When it was finally her turn to talk, I didn't even feel her pain. I even questioned myself - Am I human? Why isn't my heart going out for her? What is wrong with me?! In the story, we hear four different voices : Elaine, Kelsie, Josh, and Kurt. Among the four, my least favorite is Elaine. She sounded like a stuck-up bitch, the kind of person who starts hating on someone, and it becomes a trend.
It's weird how things can just get out of control sometimes. And it's weird how, like, when it's your job to be a popular bitch you just feel compelled to keep doing it sometimes. That sounds so lame and like a total excuse, I get it. But it is what it is. - Elaine
...but what Kelsie did was the worst. She was the best friend of Alice. If she is my best friend, I expect her to be the first one to trust and understand me, but in this story, it was the opposite. She was also one of those people who spread rumors about Alice. I understand her dilemma. She didn't want to be a wallflower anymore, however, I don't think I could ever push my best friend away just to stay popular. But there was a part of the story that made my heart go out to her. The Really Awful Stuff that happened was horrible. I can't even wrap my mind around how she was able move on and be sort of normal after that happened. It wasn't all about Alice, though. Josh was clearly struggling about his sexual identity in this book. I wish the author expounded further, although there were a lot of bits and pieces of his struggles, I still wished they were much clearer. I take it more people would be able to relate to his personal dilemma. He also knows what really happened to Brandon when they had the accident. And I also wished that the truth about this was revealed.
How could there be a heaven for me and not for every little fly I swat or squirrel I've accidentally run over? - Josh
Kurt is my favorite voice among the four. In a way, he was an outcast. He's the nerd who kept to himself, but I take it that it was also by choice. He liked that he had that kind of freedom. No one bothered him. But just like any other high school guy, he is attracted to someone. This someone is Alice. When an opportunity to be close to her arose, he took it. They became friends in the process, but he holds a secret, the truth. These voices reminded me of the people that I have met in high school. I found Kurt, Elaine, and Josh to be the most relatable. I've had friends like them. I also knew some Kelsies and Alices. Even I have experienced being talked about behind my back. My uncle asked my mom if I was pregnant. LIKE, OMG, I was 14! Of course, it wasn't true, and my mom knew that, and told my uncle that it's just a bad rumor. (My cousin goes to the same school, so my cousin told my uncle!) When my mom told me about it, we both laughed! This is definitely a compelling read. We witness how a false rumor can slowly ruin a person's life. The after effects can be so devastating. We hear it from the news all the time. There were others who took their own lives because of extreme bullying, and in Alice's case, the whole town was basically against her. Where were the adults? The Truth About Alice pushes us to think and reflect on our actions. Is our social standing more important than telling the truth? When you hear a rumor, do you believe it right away, or do you try to find out if it's true? And if you were bullied and is the constant subject of false rumors, how do you go on with your every day life? What kind of struggles does one have in order to survive the repercussions of such rumors? Although the ending was quite satisfactory, the book didn't blow me away. I still think that this is an important story to read, and if you have the time, pick this up! I received this book from Roaring Brook Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
All Four Stars is definitely a charming little book. The synopsis said that there will be food, and there were! To be honest, I had dreams about food while reading this book. It was a fantastically scrumptious read!
...like tender duck breast swimming in a lake of tea-infused gravy, with a side of slender asparagus stalks dipping their tips in at the shore.
Gladys Gatsby is fascinated about food. She loves to experiment with different ingredients, but she's only in sixth grade. She abhors eating her parents' cooking, and fast food is the last on her list. Her love for food was heightened when her Aunt Lydia from Paris showed her what a real restaurant is! Her culinary activities were frowned upon by her parents when a creme brûlée mishap occurred in the kitchen. She was banned from cooking, or doing activities that has anything to do with it. This devastated Gladys. Her parents required her to make friends, and do activities outside of cooking. To me, that's one of the best things that happened to her. Gladys befriended her neighbor, Sandy. Although the first time that Gladys came over to his house was quite interesting, they became really good friends. Since Gladys was banned from cooking, she found herself enjoying other activities with her new-found friend. They played video games, or played with Sandy's pet rabbits. Gladys lucked out that his mother is interested in food, too! Sandy's mother owns the Larousse Gastronomique - it's the original French cookbook , with over thousands of classic recipes. Gladys was so ecstatic when she saw that! Mrs. Anderson actually knows how to prepare food, unlike Gladys' parents, whose idea of cooking is...
<!--more-->We'll just nuke it until it looks done!
But this book isn't all about cooking. It also tackled about family issues, where the parents were not interested in their kid's passion. For a sixth grader, it must have been really hard to suppress your love for something just to please your parents. This was the one thing about the book that I didn't really like. Her parents were portrayed as people who didn't nurture their kid's talents. There are probably real parents like that. I'm lucky to have parents that encouraged us to pursue our dreams. But what I loved about Gladys was the fact that this didn't stop her passion for cooking. Even though she couldn't eat at different restaurants, she did review all the meals she had on her journal. Her journal are full of entertaining reviews on the meals she had. Some meals were really good, and some were quite a disaster.
Another Christmas at the big brown buffet. The food this year seemed even browner than usual. Maybe the new heat lamps they got are stronger, like those tanning beds people lie in when they want to pretend they just went on a tropical vacation? The turkey definitely looked like it had spent some time on a desert island – and tasted like it, too.
What made the book quite exciting was the assignment that her teacher, Ms. Quincy, assigned to them. It was to write an essay about their passion. This lead to an amazing food-related adventure for Gladys. With the help of her friends, Sandy and Parm, she was able to make plans to eat at Classy Cakes. Just the name makes me hungry!
Overall, the book was fun, entertaining, and a delicious read! It made me curious about the dishes that were mentioned in the book, like the Indian dish, Gajar ka Halwa. It's made of carrots! So if you want something light, and if you love food, then read this book!