Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Review: The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg & Ten Spine-tingling 2011 Books to Read Before Christmas

Sent for review as part of WHSmith's Christmas campaign.

The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg
Publisher: Razorbill Penguin
Released: 2nd February 2012
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Dying of a broken heart is just the beginning... Welcome to forever.

BRIE'S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally.

But now that she's D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after.

With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?

"Inventive, gorgeous, funny and yes . . . heartbreaking. You will absolutely love this book." — Lauren Oliver, New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and Delirium.
(from Goodreads)

First of all, I just have to comment on what an awesome title The Catastrophic History of You and Me is. Even at first glance, it’s an intriguing title, but after reading the book, I appreciate it so much more. Speaking of reading the book – wow. When I started TCHOYAM, I thought it would be a simple story about a girl who died and now had to figure out how to “move on” to the next stage of existence. But it’s actually much more complex than that. Brie, our main character, died when her heart literally broke in half. To her, it’s obvious it happened because the boy she loved broke up with her, but to her family – and her father especially – her death seems more mysterious and inexplicable. As Brie watches her friends and family fall apart, she desires revenge against the boy who caused it all – Jacob. But with the help of her guide to the afterlife, Patrick, Brie soon realises that things aren’t as simple as they seem and getting revenge won’t fix the problems left behind after her death. As Brie goes through the five stages of grief and struggles to come to terms with her death, she learns a lot about herself and the people that loved her – but will she ever be able to reach the last stage, “acceptance”?

Brie was an awesome main character. I connected with her from the start, because she was so funny and likeable, but I think the she completely won me over when she made a “your mum” joke to Patrick. From that point on, I adored her, seriously. She had the kind of humour that I love and managed to make perfectly ordinary things seem hilarious! I actually can’t tell you just how funny she was, but all I know is that I found myself struggling not to laugh out loud. I definitely got a lot of weird looks from the rest of the people in my school library – probably because I was reading this book with a crazy grin on my face, trying not to burst into laughter. But along with being fun and witty, Brie was actually quite a tough character too. She had to deal with a lot of horrible things that a lot of people wouldn’t be able to handle, and even though she made a few stupid mistakes along the way, she always admitted when she was wrong, which I really liked about her. She could feel herself going through the stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression/sadness – and she tried her best to get through it all. I admired her coping ability, and I felt like I could really relate to her. I sort of went with her emotions – what she felt, I felt. If she was angry at a person, I was angry at them too. If she changed her mind, so did I. The kind of problems she was experiencing, and the ones she saw other people experience, were real life problems, things that could happen to anyone. This book deals with a lot of difficult issues, and it’s done very well in my opinion.

Patrick, a boy who died in the 80s but was still hanging around in the weird in-between world for some strange reason, was another character I loved. His humour was similar to Brie’s, and he was another one that was hilarious from the start. He had all these crazy nicknames for Brie, that made fun of the fact she was named after a type of cheese, and I think my favourite was “Chedster”. I just thought he was so cute whenever he called her a cheesy nickname, and I loved the banter between the two. There was this big mystery surrounding Patrick too, which really got me curious about him. He never explained why he hadn’t moved on or what he was doing, and he seemed to be hanging out with Brie just because she was new and he was bored. As the book went on however, things slowly unravelled, and I loved finding out more about him (though personally, I could have done with more info on Patrick, because I liked him so much). Another thing I loved was that the relationship between Brie and Patrick actually developed slowly – there was potential to easily fall into the insta-love trap here, but Rothenberg was really clever with the way she did things, so that Brie actually got to know Patrick and get to that stage where she felt comfortable around him. It was so great to read about!

Other characters that were interesting were Brie’s friends and her ex-boyfriend, Jacob. None of them were at all what I expected. The great thing about the plot in this one was that so many things happened that I never guessed would. I immediately assumed Brie’s friend Sadie was a horrible person, but there was more to it than that. Same with Jacob and Brie’s father. Nothing was as simple as it seemed, and as I read on, I realised that we’d really only scratched the surface with these characters. All my predictions went out of the window, and I did not see the end coming until a few chapters before when I started to realise what was happening. Even then, I was not prepared for that ending! I did not guess that at all! I loved it though – a great ending to a great book.

Overall, The Catastrophic History of You and Me was a wonderful, hilarious, heartbreaking young adult read. From the chapters named after song lyrics to the amazing plot to the wonderful 3D characters – it was seriously just excellent. Though the writing started off a little hard to get into, it got so engaging and compelling a little further in – I can’t recommend this book enough. Read it, is all I can say.
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As TCHOYAM was sent to me as part of WHSmith's Christmas campaign, I've decided to do a little Christmassy post to take part in it, and I've come up with a list of books I think you all need to read before Christmas. Books so good, you'll be missing out if you don't read them! Plus, they make excellent Christmas presents too, so if you've got any friends that like reading, that's them sorted. So, on with the list!

Ten Spine-tingling 2011 Books to Read Before Christmas

1. Divergent by Veronica Roth - if you haven't already read this book, I have nothing to say except go buy it right now. This very second. Seriously. I read Divergent way back in March, and it's still my favourite read of 2011! An absolute amazing read - and Tris and Four are probably some of the best characters I've come across in a while. 

2. Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson - like characters with cool powers? Like lots of action, amazing romance and suspenseful mystery? Then Hunting Lila is the book for you! Lila was such an awesome protagonist and her relationship with Alex...one of the best romances I've read in YA. I devoured this book the day I got it, and it comes with my highest recommendation.

3. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare - okay, so this one isn't out yet, but you can pre-order it in time for Christmas, and guys, I really think you should. No, I KNOW you should. You think Clockwork Angel was good? Wait until you read this book. I think it may be my favourite Cassie Clare book yet! The characters make this series - Tessa is a brilliant heroine, and together with Will and Jem is the greatest love triangle in all of YA. No joke. I have a review coming soon for this, where I've tried to explain the Love Triangle of Greatness, but I don't know if it did it justice.

4. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - so Laini Taylor is a genius. I commend her for writing such a wonderful, funny, heartbreaking, romantic - basically anything you could wish for - book. Karou's story is unique and intriguing, and the world Laini has created is unlike anything I've ever come across - it's just fantastic. A must read.

5. Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts - if you like books with that creep factor, ones that make you look around as you're reading to check no-one suspicious is staring at you and make you sleep with the light on at night, then read Dark Inside. It's definitely creepy, but also very interesting and full of mystery. The characters all have their own story that form a very important part of the plot, and it's great working out how everything fits together! 

6. Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter - because who doesn't want to read about teenage spies? Especially when a mysterious organisation with bad intentions is involved. Plus, with a love interest as amazing as Zach, I honestly don't know why anyone wouldn't enjoy this book. Fourth in the series, and possibly the best book yet! 

7. Deception by Lee Nichols - I'm a huge fan of ghost stories, and I think Deception is one of the best ghost books out there at the moment. Emma is a really likeable main character she has a really interesting gift that allows her to do more than just see ghosts, which was great because it was different to a lot of other ghost stories I've read. The romance aspect is very, very good too - recommended!

8. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater - this is the first book I've read by Maggie, and it definitely won't be the last. The Scorpio Races is beautifully written, and I became completely absorbed in Puck and Sean's world of water horses. A truly fantastic book - if you're looking for something that stands out from the crowd, give this one a go.

9. Forbidden by Jana Oliver - second in the The Demon Trappers series, and an excellent sequel! Riley is back and just as feisty as ever - I love her character because she's always so strong and determined! This book is a little darker than the first, but we get to discover a lot more about the demons and about Riley. And of course, there's Beck. This series wouldn't be the same without him! If you liked the first book, Forsaken, then you absolutely have to read this.

10. Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini - a very interesting spin on Greek mythology that will definitely have you intrigued. Starcrossed is one of those books that pulls you in from the start, and keeps you engrossed until it's over. With a forbidden romance thrown into the mix too, this book is sure to attract a range of different readers. I loved it, and I'm already desperate for the sequel!

And that's it! I hope you enjoyed the post and maybe added some books to your Christmas list this year! Thanks to Jodi and WHSmith for letting me be part of the campaign :).

11 comments:

  1. This one sounds interesting and fun! I think I'll check it out for sure in the New Year.

    I still haven't read Divergent or The Scorpio races yet (must get to them soon!) You know I am so with you on Dark Inside. Loved that one & DOSAB! I haven't read The Demon Trappers series yet, even though I have two books in the series. Might check it out soon!

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  2. awesome review! i want to read this one for sure! :)

    here's my review of catching jordan! stop by?!
    http://lindsaycummingsblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/arc-review-catching-jordan-fun-read.html

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  3. Ah, this book sounds SO GOOD. I would have probably read it just because of the Lauren Oliver blurb but if the characters are that awesome? Definitely must read. Is that still the UK cover then?

    *cries* I've only read 3 of the books on your list, although I own the Scorpio Races and the first book in the Demon Trappers series.

    Now, because I am sleep-deprived and slightly crazy:

    He made nicknames based on her name of Brie (cheese), right? You said the nicknames were CHEESY.

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH... I need more sleep.

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  4. Liz I seriously think I'm going to start crying. I have not read one book on your list of must reads before Christmas! I own several of them but I need to get around to reading them!

    I also loved your review of TCHOYAM. I was really going to pass this one up because I was thinking it was just another ghost story but it sounds like so much more than that. I love the sound of the main character and Patrick. Now I will have to add it to my wish list!

    Thanks for the great review.

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  5. I definitely want to read TCHOYAM. It sounds sooo good - your review just confirms that. Can't wait til February!
    Loved your Christmas list as well. About half of them are sitting on my shelf unread! Shocking, I know. I need to do a readathon before Christmas and get a few out the way before the end of the year haha. Great post! :)

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  6. Oh man, you have made me 14x more excited to read this!!! I loved the cover and description and was already so eager to read it, but yours is the first in depth review I've read and.... Brodie wants wants wants now! I'm so glad you were able to connect with the characters so well, particularly Brie. Her relationship with Patrick sounds brilliant!. This sounds so good, I can't wait to read it. Amazing review!

    OMG yes yes yes. Divergent, Hunting Lila, DOSAB, Scorpio Races, Deception... LOVE! Dying to read Dark Inside, it sounds so good.

    Also: Sonia is nuts. The end. :P

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  7. This sounds so good!! I would never have picked this up but having read your review I do really want to read it! Also, great list of books!! Pretty much agree with all of them you have great taste ;)

    The Cait Files

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  8. This sounds awesome! I was kinda sold from the title and the cover but the blurb out me off so your review sold it to me all over again! Off to add it to the wishlist!

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  9. TCHOYAM has been on my TBR forever, and the summary had me really curious about it. But it wasn't until the cover came out that I developed more than a passing interest in it. This is the first review I've read on it, and I have to say Liz you make this book sound so lovable I HAVE to have it :D

    "...that's them sorted." Can your Britishness come out any more? :P But, naw, I need to read Hunting Lila and the Clockwork Prince asap. Because they just sound amazeballs, OBVS. All these books just get me so worked up!

    - Asher (from Paranormal Indulgence)

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  10. I haven’t read this one before, but it’s definitely being added to my shelf now – thank you for sharing! :)
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