[ARC] A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery

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Kelsey e Michelle sono due gemelle, estroverse e molto diverse, non solo per gli interessi artistici: Kelsey ama la danza e il movimento, Michelle invece ama dipingere.

Poco dopo aver presentato a Kelsey il nuovo fidanzato, Peter, militare destinato all’Afghanistan, Michelle muore in un incidente d’auto. Straziata dal dolore per la perdita della sorella, e decisa a risparmiare a Peter la sofferenza fino alla fine della missione, Kelsey finge con il ragazzo di essere la sorella.

Mi aspettavo onestamente un romanzo sul romantico – patetico, invece A Million Miles Away si è rivelata una lettura gradevole che non si concentra solo sul meccanismo della storia d’amore (ah, la finzione tra sorelle/fratelli gemelle) ma soprattutto sulla mancanza di Michelle.

L’inganno verso Peter nasce anche dall’assenza dei genitori nella vita di Kelsey, troppo occupati a superare la morte dell’altra figlia con gruppi di supporto, mentre Kelsey si ritrova a capire di conoscere pochissimo gli interessi di Michelle, la menzogna quindi la aiuta a mantenere il suo ricordo.

Ringrazio l’editore per avermi fornito la copia necessaria per stendere questa recensione.

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Kelsey and Michelle are twin sisters, extroverted and different, and not only concerning their artistic interests: Kelsey loves dancing and moving, Michelle instead is fond of painting.

A few hours after the meeting between Kelsey and MIchelle new boyfriend, Peter, recently deployed to Afghanistan, Michelle dies in a car accident. Teared apard for losing her sister, and willing to avoid the same pain to Peter, Kelsey fakes in his eyes to be her sister, with the purpose to tell him once back from war.

I honestly foreseen a kind of lame romantic novel, but A Million Miles Away turned out to be a pleasant reading that does not focus only on the love story mechanism (ah, the faking among twins), but mostly on the absence of Michelle.

The idea to deceive Peter comes also from the absence of her partents in Kelsey’s life, they being too much focused on overcoming the loss by themselves and with support groups, while Kelsey founds herself aware of how little she knew about Michelle, and the lies helps her in maintaing Michelle alive with her.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

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A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery ★★★☆☆½

[ARC] Judas: The Last Days by W. Maxwell Prince & John Amor

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Judas: The last days è una graphic novel in cui l’autore immagina come, dopo la morte di Gesù, gli apostoli abbiano acquisito l’immortalità, iniziando così a vivere nella speranza del Suo ritorno sulla terra.

La storia è ambientata nei giorni nostri: Giuda, l’apostolo traditore, desidera trovare un modo di porre fine alla vita eterna, ormai per lui un supplizio dato che non è riuscito a trovare la pace; Giuda si affida così prima a degli gnomi bibliotecari – incaricati di scrivere la storia del mondo e conservarla – e poi, dopo il loro rifiuto a collaborare, va alla ricerca di Matteo. Scopriamo così man mano la sorte degli apostoli e la loro trasformazione in peccatori nel corso dei secoli.

La ricerca di Giuda porterà reazioni imprevedibili, ma consentirà anche di dipanare il motivo dell’origine dei bibliotecari e forse di trovare finalmente un senso di pace.

Penso che “Judas: The last days” sia una graphic novel interessante, soprattutto per il tema scelto e il modo in cui è affrontato (e che probabilmente non piacerà universalmente), quello che funziona meglio è l’evoluzione della personalità degli apostoli che risultano sì eccessivi ma anche capaci di intermezzi divertenti.

Ringrazio l’editore per avermi fornito la copia necessaria per stendere questa recensione.

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Judas: The last days is a graphic novel where the author pictures the life of the Apostles after the death of Jesus: they are immortal being who live in the hope of Him coming back to the Earth.

The story is set in the present time: Judas, the traitor, desires to find a way to finally die, the immortality being only a sufferance to him, unable to find peace; Judas firstly talks to the library gnomes – beings who have to write the history of the world and to maintain the memory of the past – and then, after their refusal to help, he goes to look for Matthew. The reader slowly discover the destiny of the Apostles and their transformation in sinner during centuries.

Judas’ search will bring unexpected reactions, but it will help in understanding the role of the librarians and in the end in finding some form of peace.

I think that “Judas: The last days” is an interesting graphic novel, also for the chosen topic and the way it is dealt with (that probably some people will not like), the think that works better is the evolution of the Apostles personalities who are excessive but also fun.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

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Judas: The Last Days by W. Maxwell Prince & John Amor ★★★☆☆

[ARC] The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

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In The walls around us two voices tell their story: on one side Violet, young ballerina who has almost reached New York and fame, on the other Amber, convict since three years in the Juvenile Correction Institute Aurora Hills. They have in common only one thing: Ori, also a ballerina and also a convict for a bloody murder.

While Violet tells about her future and reflects on what happened to Ori, her best friend till the tragic day, Amber speaks about her past (a violent stepfather, a mother who did not want to see) and her life in Amber Hills, the relation with the other girls there and the memory of the one magic August night when the lock bust open without Conviction Officers around.

Going on reading we understand that much we are told is not quite the truth, and the novel is a good example of unreliable narrator, because, among the one who lies, who want the past to have taken a different course, who forgot or chose to forget, the true course of events is clear only at the end. The characters are well-developed and their confusion – true or faked – is believable and it is one of the forces (in addition to the style that I liked) that makes this story interesting.

It’s a tale of interrupted lives, who are searching their past for the impulse that brought them to the extreme action and to the conviction, of girls who want to obtain the justice denied in the courts that posed these walls around them.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.


* The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma ★★☆☆

*I read this book in english

Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt

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Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

Keturah meets Lord Death in the woods, after being lost and getting weaker. To buy some time the girl deceives Death by telling a love story which ending she will disclose only after a couple of day of life. To this Death adds a bargain: if Keturah will be able to fulfill her only wish – to find her true love – Death will allow her a full life, otherwise Keturah would have to come with him to the realms of dead.

The ending is quite easy to grasp, nevertheless the novel is engaging – but not fast paced; back in the village we enter in a fairy tale: Keturah has to find her true love (despite the fact she does not love any man in the town) but also advise the Lord of the plague that is coming.

It’s an engaging novel pervaded of something melancholy that is quite suited for the story: Keturah will have to choose for obtaining her true love. The quote by Emily Dickinson I reported above well summarize the novel character.

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* Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt ★★★★☆½

*I read this book in English

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

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I always like novels that takes form from some myths or particular traditions both for the magical settings, both for the interesting things I learn from them.

A recent example is The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo where everything begins from the ritual – not so common however – diffused in the China English colonies (Malaysia, Singapore etc..) to marry also ghosts. The marriage could unite in the afterlife two young lovers both dead or to bound a concubine to her dead lover. Yangsze Choo builds the novel on this premises but makes some changes to make it more engaging.

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John Green and dying young

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Two times till now I wrote in a comment this thing about dying young, and both times it was about a John Green‘s novel – the only two novel of this writer I read for now, I honestly hope his other works being more happy.

The former I read is the well-known “The fault in our stars” that takes the title by a Shakespeare quote:

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

and that is being the inspiration for a movie that will soon come out; the latter is “Looking for Alaska” that in this case is not the State but a girl and that it should be read before “The fault in our stars”.

When I read them – but this reflection mainly concerns the former one – my review was enthusiastic (the review is the one below, only little bit less passionate than the original version), but after some time I began to think that maybe it’s a clever book that plays on emotions and empathy, so my whole opinion could be reviewed.

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Another Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey Martin

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I recently read a nice novel – for the review see below – that I discovered being a retelling of a novel written by a most famous author.

About retelling I already said something: they are novels or stories that come from something already existing but are inserted in a different context, in this specific case the original story is contextualize in the modern age and the main character are a girl and a boy who want to become famous rock stars.

The original novel, if you are curious – that I did not read but I will soon – is Persuasion by Jane Austen.

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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

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The Goldfinch is the last novel by Donna Tartt, and the first I read from this author.

The novel takes the title from the painting by Carel Fabritius about a goldfinch chained to a perch;the painting will have a particular role into the novel and it follow the main character into the difficult choices life impose him.

Theo, a twelve year old boy, finds himself involved in a terroristic attack at the where his mother, the only parent who cares for him, dies, and while coming out from that place of horror he steals the painting and he hid it in his home.

The boy’s life will be deeply marked by the death of his mother, event that will bring him to live with the Barbour, the rich family of an old friend of him, and that will exacerbate his inclination toward depression and self-destruction bringing him towards various kind of addictions, from alcohol to drugs.

Essential in his life will be the meeting with Boris, a Russian boy already on the path of an existence at the edge of legality, and the inconstant presence of Pippa, who shared with Theo the attack moment and who is able to understand his feelings about it.

The Goldfinch / Il Cardellino by Carel Fabritius

The painting will arise in Theo mixed feelings: on one hand he is aware of having deprived the humanity of a work of art and of having committed a crime, on the other hand the attraction to the painting – that reminds him of his mother – is too strong to allow him to give it back; this element makes impossible for him to let go his past and to live a serene existence.

 

The plot is engaging, a part of some chapters where everything slows focusing maybe too much on the boy’s emotions that permeate the whole novel (and that poses a risk of depression for the most emphatic readers) : Theo lives an unlucy life, both for chance and for some choices he makes, his reflexive character brings him to share with the reader his doubts, uncertainties and driving emotions.

I have to talk about the descriptions, so vivid and true, that are able to bring the reader just there, where the author wants us to be, beautiful also for the linguistic choices made and for the love of art and music that is a carrying force of the whole novel.

In its construction the novel reminds us of the old great literature, and it’s a read I suggest, despite its complexity and being emotionally demanding.

Least but not last I ask myself: why that specific painting? The goldfinch in the picture is chained, that could be a reference to the fact that Theo choses no to let go the memory of his mother, but to froze himself in that specific, last moment they shared. Or it can mean that Theo’s life is chained in a path he was not able to choose himself.

I read that the goldfinch means the soul of man who leaves the body after death: maybe Thes’s mother whose soul cannot leave the world ?

In a novel where nothing is for chance I think it’s normal to ask some questions of this kind and to answer them, even if giving a non-universal answer.

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* The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt ★★★

*I read this book in English

[ARC] Murder Mysteries by Neil Gaiman

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In this graphic novel, published some years ago, Neil Gaiman tells a story happened before the creation of the universe, about a tragic death among the angels and its reasons.
Raguel, angel of revenge, remembers the beginning of everything and tells it to a stranger met at night in town.

It’s a beautiful tale, both for the graphic and the structure itself (the one we meet first is the man Raguel talks to) and with a powerful ending.
As in Sandman the author proves to be able to tell a story by using media different from the novel.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

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* Murder Mysteries by Neil Gaiman ★★★★☆

*I read this book in English

[ARC] Tape by Steven Camden

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1993, Ryan is trying to overcome the loss of his mother: his father just remarried and with the marriage the boy has gained a step brother he does not like, Nathan. Ryan’s way to process the loss is by recording messages to his mother on a tape.

Years later also Ameliah is processing the loss of both her parents: she lives with her grandmother and begins to look at what remains of her parents, the music they loved, her mother’s guitar and some recorded tapes.

Obviously Ryan and Ameliah are linked together – not to hard to discover why – and the novel follows them both while they begin to move on overcoming their grief.

It’s a nice novel, but no more than that: the plot development and the links between past and present are quite obvious, nevertheless it’s a good novel for young readers.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

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* Tape by Steven Camden ★★★☆☆

*I read this book in English