Tuesday, October 4, 2011

[Review] Beautiful Days (#2) by Anna Godbersen

Title: Beautiful Days {goodreads}
Authors: Anna Godbersen
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 24/08/11
Publisher: Penguin (AU)
RRP: $19.95
Source: For review (thanks T at Penguin)
Age: 14+
Pages: 350
My Rating:

Summary:
Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
My thoughts: 

WARNING:
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT READ BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS!!!


I'd be lying if I said I was utterly and completely blown away by BEAUTIFUL DAYS. However, with that said, this eagerly awaited sequel really brought me back to the Jazz Era - along with the lives of Cordelia Grey, Astrid Donal and 'Letty Larkspur'. There's mystery, romance, intrigue, fun, tragedy and beautiful days and roaring nights among it all.

The girls are back! Cordelia (on cover this time) is dealing with her father's recent murder, and with the confusing circumstances surrounding that elusive and cold pilotman Max Darby. Astrid is about to be wed with Charlie Grey but yearns for the constant excitement that only a night out in the town can provide. And little miss Letty is going to go after her dreams of making it big - no matter what.

Once again, in this review I'd like to say that I have not read the THE LUXE series, so I can't draw any comparisons between the two series. If you're looking for a great summer read - this will be among the top of the list. BEAUTIFUL DAYS takes place during the LAST SUMMER of the Jazz Era, which can only mean one thing for the next instalment to the series. ;) I for one can't wait for the drastic changes!

Godbersen continues to utilise the third person multiple perspectives style that she has used in all her past novels. Anyone who has read any of Godbersen's novels will know exactly what to expect, writing-wise. What Godbersen continues to do well is switch between these girls with such ease that you're barely even aware of it. I love how she does go over the appearances of each scene and notable character, so that you're actually able to visualise every scene precisely how Godbersen has imagined it.

The girls are even more glamorous in this book. I rekindled my love for both Letty and Cordelia, but I just couldn't stand Astrid most of the time. She's pretty whiney and in her naivety gets into so many stupid situations. I don't even want to talk about her that much. I applaud Charlie for his patience, no matter how slight they were. He was going through so much crap throughout this book, what with his bootlegging business, that he didn't need his silly fiance to ruin things for him. Anyway, Letty really matures during the course of this book, and it shows. I think she's always been my favourite of the three, just because she has that unmasked sincerity and girlish charm to her that never goes away. Cordelia revels in her luxury, and although she does have a few hiccups here and there, she's self-assured and confident and a glittering picture of the Jazz Era.

There is so much romance/flirting in this book! Nothing that really swept me off my feet or had me swooning, mind you, but you can't review this book without mentioning the voluptuous amount of suitors for each girl. Okay, maybe it wasn't a whole hoard or anything, but still. The pairs that matter are Cordelia x Max, Letty x Grady (he's back!) and Astrid x Charlie. My favourite is definitely the first - I just soaked up the events that follow their relationship.

One thing that did bother me (other than Astrid) was the almost lack of direction in this installment. There isn't one really undercurrent storyline running throughout the book, more like a bundle of stories that are intertwined together. I guess it is hard for that to happen in this kind of era, but I don't know. Anyone else feel that way?

What I really love is that Charlie Grey takes on such a large role during this book, compared to BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS. I didn't like how he kept secrets from his fiance - which gave her even more the reason to oppose him and go do stupid things - but...I liked his character.

For fans of a delectable read, BEAUTIFUL DAYS picks up where BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS left off. This time, the summer is hot, the romances and betrayals even hotter. Godbersen hits the nail on the head with maintaining a solid storyline for each girl, and intertwining these stories to form a coherent plot.

Quote:

First lines

"I have three simple wishes.They're really not too much to ask.
     The first is to attend the winter formaal dressed like Marie Antoinette. I want a wig so elaborate it could cage a bird and a dress so wide I'll only be able to enter the dance through a set of double doors. But I'll hold my skirts high as I arrive, so everyone can see that, underneath the frills, I'm punk-rock tough. 
     The second is for my parents to approve of my boyfriend. ...
     And my third wish?
     To never ever ever see the Bell twins ever again. Ever.

Favourites

"
"My father has been dead barely a month." Her voice trembled a little, but her words fell with violent precision. "He wasn't a bad man, and he did all he could for himself and his family. He didn't begrudge other people their choices, and he left a life grander than the one he was born into. So you'll not say 'bootlegger' to me in that righteous tone again." She took another sip of the drink, and then thrust both the glass and the pitcher forward with sudden force, so that Max had no choice but to take them. Then, learning forward, holding his gaze, and almost hissing, she concluded: "Don't expect me to act like some ashamed nothing just because you talk so high and mighty. I know who I am."

(p. 51, Cordelia - kicking ass as always)

"
"I've eaten some bad meals in my time." He paused for effect, and more or less subdued the smile he'd been wearing since she'd begun to act carefree again. "This may possibly be the most inedible plate of food I have even been served in my long years of eating."
     "You bastaard!" she hooted. "The worst? You're in trouble now, my friend--earlier I was going easy on you when it came to our little game, but now I shall show you no mercy."
     "Ah, it's on then?" he replied with a wise smile.
     "Indeed it is, mister." She sat up straight in her chair and focused on her hand.


(pp. 168-169, Astrid and Victor - Charlie's man ~ Astrid cooked dinner for Charlie, and burnt the roast and oversalted the potatoes in the process. In the end, Charlie had 'things to do' and so she was left with a babysitter. Victor. Astrid and Victor just had dinner and now they're playing gin rummy.)


"
Letty's feet were heavy and her chest felt like one big days-old bruise that keeps getting kicked. She wished ... Gracy had any girl but Peachy at his side. For the sight of her long legs had always made Letty seem short, as her rich dress made Letty feel poor, and the length of her neck and the way she carried her head perched on top of it could reduce Letty to nothing. The bruised sensation spread outward from her heart to the pit of her stomach and up to her temples, and she began to take in the full scope of her loss.

(p. 295, Letty on Grady)

"
In a black dress, with her face framed by a gold headress, Letty was a vision of a much more experienced performer. Her eyes danced across the audience and she raised her arms, slow and sure, as her voice swelled. Cordelia thought of her when they first became friends, when they were still girls and Letty blushed when anyone said even the most casual thing to her. It was incredible that this was the same girl. If Cordelia had told any of the men along the bar watching Letty, rapt, that she was just seventeen and had only arrived from Ohio in May, she knew they would have fallen off their stools in surprise.

(p. 313, Cordelia on Letty as she performs)




~~~

Sorry for the long quotes. Godbersen writes really long passages and they're only effective when they are quoted in their entirety.

Buy:

* cheapest Australian e-store price

AUSTRALIAN RESIDENTS

INTERNATIONAL READERS


All links from Booko, because I'm too lazy to search each individual store anymore.





I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

Challenge: ---

Trailer:




BEAUTIFUL DAYS in a song (2): Sara Bareilles - Fairytale x Sara Bareilles - Gravity


Okay. Let me explain. I really don't listen to jazz, and so this is the best I could find. Or I just really love Sara Bareilles. Both statements are correct, really...


Fairytale because it has that smooth jazzy tone to it, and I guess it could represent the kickass independence of Letty/Cordelia. Also, this is what I imagine Letty would have sounded during her big moment.

"'Cause i don't care for your fairytales
You're so worried bout the maiden though you know
She's only waiting on the next best thing

And Gravity because of THIS. The lyrics might also apply to all the pairs mentioned up up above in the "my thoughts" section.

"Something always brings me back to you.
It never takes too long.
No matter what I say or do I'll still feel you here 'til the moment I'm gone.

But you're neither friend nor foe though I can't seem to let you go.
The one thing that I still know is that you're keeping me down

- Cordelia x Max
"You loved me 'cause I'm fragile.
When I thought that I was strong.
But you touch me for a little while and all my fragile strength is gone.

- Astrid x Charlie

 Also. For Letty, Rebecca Black's "My Moment". You can't deny that it matches really well for her story. I can imagine her sing something like this during her big moment on stage. Of course, a big coarser and with jazziness coursing through every note sung.

Comment with your own "BEAUTIFUL DAYS in a song"!
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