I nearly always review the books I finish, even if it's just to give a brief 1-2 paragraph summary of my thoughts, but I've been truly struggling to put down my feelings into words when it comes to these novels. You know that feeling when you need to post a review, but you just keep staring at a blinking cursor, wondering if you could somehow just place your heart into the monitor so that everything could be explained that simply? Well...I do. Needless to say, these aren't reviews; they're just brief sentences on why you shouldn't pass up on these books. Even if you are a coward of right-in-the-gut emotions, I promise you, these ones are more than worth it.
Title: Rose Under Fire
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: September 10th, 2013
What to possibly say about Rose Under Fire? Honestly, Elizabeth Wein's name speaks for itself. After the brilliant and tear-inducing Code Name Verity, I knew to expect great things going into this book, and I wasn't disappointed. I found this novel a tad bit easier to get into, only because the beginning chronicles the life of Rose Justice, an American pilot during WWII who loves her job and remains untainted by the war. It's a naive telling, but a mostly content one. When true horror finally finds Rose, the juxtaposition between her life before and after is so palpably felt. Once again, Wein writes about the strong bonds and friendships between women, and she writes these beautifully. I find she is practically unrivaled when it comes both to character development and historical fiction. Unlike most authors, Wein has mastered the art of placing fact alongside fiction and making it into a believable tale. While I found this novel to lack a bit of the emotional punch that Code Name Verity contained, along with the literary genius of Julie's prose, it is still an extraordinary novel. If you loved Code Name Verity at all, this is a must-read. And if you haven't read Code Name Verity yet, then why are you waiting for your heart to get broken? Grab a dozen boxes of tissues and get to it - at once!
Title: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Author: Matthew Quick
Rating: 5 Stars
I hardly know where to begin with Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. Suffice to say that this novel is brilliant, beautiful, and heart-breaking. It follows a teenage boy - Leonard Peacock - on his birthday as he chooses to kill another boy in his school and then commit suicide himself, all after giving the few special people in his life gifts to remember him by. As a foray into Quick's works, I can't say this was the happiest of reads, but it made my throat close up in grief and my knuckles fist into my mouth to stop my sobs. It's difficult for me to articulate exactly why this book is so powerful, but Quick manages to capture the mindset of a lonely and hurting teenager perfectly. Moreover, the cast of secondary characters in this novel is stunning in their gray matter and unexpected depth. Leonard, especially, is a character our hearts go out to at once and I loved nothing more than his growth and the realistic, but hopeful, ending of this story. I truly believe this is one that everyone must read, if only to realize the pain that others carry within their hearts and learn to appreciate humanity a little bit more.
Title: Wrong Ways Down (Downside Ghosts, #1.5)
Author: Stacia Kane
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Out of the novels I chose not to review, this is perhaps the least heavy. And yet, the Downside Ghosts Series makes my stomach flip every time. After five books, we're finally given a glimpse into Terrible's head - and what a heart-breaking, but wonderful experience it is! I wouldn't encourage new readers to this series to read this novel after Unholy Ghosts, only because its full impact is felt only after the latter installments have been read. It is incredible to see how fully Terrible understands Chess - an understanding that we, the reader, only obtain after five books in her head while he claims this same understanding after a mere few meetings. Even more than the relationship between Terrible and Chess, though, this novel is so very emotional because of Terrible's own insecurities. We've seen Chess battle her inner demons, but Terrible's are also just as deep, secret, and dark. And, oh, Terrible made my heart shatter (as always). I feel like Stacia Kane just stabs me with a fork in all her books, so I'm still bleeding, but it's slow. And yet I love it. A definite must-read for fans of this series; trust me, you don't want to pass this one up.