The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.
In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.
That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.
I’m having a very difficult time putting my feelings for this book into words. Not because I’m conflicted about them, but because there just aren’t any words to accurately describe how much I love The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. This books is potentially the most beautifully written I have read since The Fault in Our Stars - and maybe even more so.
The story Walton tells is about love, loss, tragedy, hope, and so many other things that are acutely human. It’s impossible to stick this book into a single category. Even though it has its fair share of the fantastical, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender contains a story more real than most realistic fiction books. Walton’s lyrical prose is bittersweet and heart-wrenching. Ava narrates her story, and her family’s story, with a clear voice, mixing whimsy and heartbreak in a way only true stories can. The story begins slowly, with Ava’s grandmother, and works its way through the generations to Ava and her twin, Henry. And although the beginning isn’t fast-paced, it’s captivating. The pace of the story slowly gathers speed, leaving readers breathless with tears and joy by the last page.
The story of the Roux family is complicated and crowded with a multitude of characters, each more intricately written than the last. And yet, the story is told simply and beautifully. Each of the characters contributes something, and even those characters I hated, I understood. Not a single one of them is flat or boring, and almost all of them are intensely relatable. Walton’s strange and beautiful characters tell an equally strange and beautiful story, permeated by love and all its imperfections. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is an achingly lovely book. I want to scream from the rooftops how good this book is - and to stop myself from gushing any more, that’s all I’ll say.
Books & Cupcakes Thank You Book Giveaway!
Hello everyone!! ::waves:: I am thrilled to be hosting this giveaway!! I can’t believe Books & Cupcakes has reached over 10,000 followers! You are all amazing and fantastic! This giveaway is just my small way to say thank you to everyone who follows me, reads my reviews, partakes in the book photo challenge, and sends me lovely messages. I wanted to do something nice for you all as a thank you for your love and support! Thank you all so much!! xoxo Jessica
- This book giveaway will be open WORLDWIDE thanks to the book depository!
- The winner will be able to choose one of the above books.
- Since this is a thank you to my followers, you must be following this blog. I do check!
- You can enter by reblogging and liking this post. There is not a limit to how many times you can reblog this but please be courteous of those who follow you.
- The giveaway ends May 30th. I will chose the winner at 12 noon Eastern Time (United States and Canada). The winner will have 24 hours to respond before I pick a new winner.
- As a winner you need to be comfortable with giving me your address so I can ship the book to you. I pinky promise not to stalk you!
Good luck, fingers crossed that you win and may the odds be ever in your favor!
The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa (Blood of Eden #2)
In Allison Sekemoto’s world, there is one rule left: Blood calls to blood.
She has done the unthinkable: died so that she might continue to live. Cast out of Eden and separated from the boy she dared to love, Allie will follow the call of blood to save her creator, Kanin, from the psychotic vampire Sarren. But when the trail leads to Allie’s birthplace in New Covington, what Allie finds there will change the world forever—and possibly end human and vampire existence.
There’s a new plague on the rise, a strain of the Red Lung virus that wiped out most of humanity generations ago—and this strain is deadly to humans and vampires alike. The only hope for a cure lies in the secrets Kanin carries, if Allie can get to him in time.
Allison thought that immortality was forever. But now, with eternity itself hanging in the balance, the lines between human and monster will blur even further, and Allie must face another choice she could never have imagined having to make.
As far as sequels go, this book is decent. As far as vampire books go, this book is fantastic. Even though it’s technically classified as Paranormal Romance, The Eternity Cure, and the entire Blood of Eden series, has more fantasy elements than swoon-worthy monsters.
I really like that the series is from Allison’s point of view; Paranormal Romance books are almost always from the perspective of whoever’s falling in love with the paranormal. Telling the story from the monster’s point of view, and showing just how much she struggles to contain that nature, make the romance that much more believable. Showing Allison’s fight to stay at least somewhat human also gave her a lot more depth as a character. Almost all the characters were better in The Eternity Cure than they were in The Immortal Rules, actually.
Kagawa’s vampires are exciting and interesting to read about, and the taste of vampire politics readers see in this book adds to that. The new plague threatening New Covington is a creative plot twist, just another aspect of The Eternity Cure that sets it apart from the crowd. Kagawa artfully combines elements of the paranormal, fantasy, and dystopian genres in The Eternity Cure without sticking to too many cliches. Readers who love the paranormal genre but are dissatisfied with the Paranormal Romance craze will savor Kagawa’s Blood of Eden series. The second installment in Allison’s story is as well-paced and intriguing as the first, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the third.
Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick
Based on the true story of Cambodian advocate Arn Chorn-Pond, who defied the odds to survive the Cambodian genocide of 1975-1979 and the labor camps of the Khmer Rouge.
When soldiers arrive in his hometown, Arn is just a normal little boy. But after the soldiers march the entire population into the countryside, his life is changed forever.
Arn is separated from his family and assigned to a labor camp: working in the rice paddies under a blazing sun, he sees the other children dying before his eyes. One day, the soldiers ask if any of the kids can play an instrument. Arn’s never played a note in his life, but he volunteers.
This decision will save his life, but it will pull him into the very center of what we know today as the Killing Fields. And just as the country is about to be liberated, Arn is handed a gun and forced to become a soldier.
We read about history to learn from it, to see its mistakes. One of the reasons I love historical fiction so much is that it teaches about the past so much better than a textbook. Textbooks are factual and apathetic, while books carry empathy. McCormick captures the emotions of a child soldier so vividly with Never Fall Down that it was nearly impossible not to cry, reading this.