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All Our Pretty Songs
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All Our Pretty Songs

3.5 6
by Sarah McCarry
 

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This is a story about love, but not the kind of love you think. You'll see…

In the lush and magical Pacific Northwest live two best friends who grew up like sisters: charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora, and the devoted, watchful narrator. Each of them is incomplete without the other. But their unbreakable bond is challenged when

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All Our Pretty Songs 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
eternalised More than 1 year ago
All Our Pretty Songs was a confusing read for me. On the one hand, there’s very lyrical, poetic prose, which I liked. Somewhat. I mean, it was all great in the beginning, but by halfway through the book, when things started happening, the events and actions were completely dominated by the lyrical prose, which made me feel like nothing was happening at all. The book is told from first person POV, and it’s one of the best first person POVs I’ve ever read, I’ll grant the author that. By page fifty or something, I was so deeply enthralled in the main character’s world and mind, that I’d deeply connected with her, and with her best friend, Aurora. If the book had been all about Aurora and our MC, then I could’ve lived with the action scenes flying by too quickly. The friendship between Aurora and the MC is amazing. They’ve been BFFs since they were both little kids, and before that, their moms were best friends. Both without a father – MC doesn’t know who her father is, and Aurora’s dad passed away – and without reliable mother figures, they only had themselves to depend upon. While they’re both very different, this only strengthens their relationship. Aurora and the Narrator both have history, they share many years together, and they both deeply love each other, almost like sisters. But then, Jack comes into the picture. Our Narrator’s relationship with Jack is weird from the get-go. Whereas the relationship between the Narrator and Aurora is convincing and heartwarming, Jack doesn’t convince at all. From the moment they meet, our Narrator falls head over heels for him, and Jack instantly likes her back. The problem is that her reaction to this guy is completely over the top and exaggerated. The Narrator talks about going all Juliet on him if he doesn’t want her (as in, killing herself), and not being able to live without him, blah blah. I get that emotions can be strong when you’re in love for the first time, but this strong is heavily exaggerated, and not a very good example. There were things I absolutely loved about this book. The paranormal part – we get glimpses early on, but it’s only fully explored in the later half of the book – is great. It’s a twist on classic mythology, and I’m a huge fan of mythology, so I’m definitely on board. I liked the Narrator. She’s not your general, typical YA main character. She’s down to earth (except when it comes to Jack), courageous, intelligent, willing to do everything for her best friend. The music was another great addition to the book. And the dark and gritty feel and unsettling atmosphere were excellent as well. But like I mentioned, whatever action happened, it was over in the blink of an eye. Everything was dominated by the prose, making this book a lot slower and more boring than it had to be. That said, I did enjoy the book enough that I’ll give the second one in the trilogy a shot. This one had a rather unsatisfactory ending, and I’d like to see what happens next. So while I found the action greatly lacking, I’m invested enough in the characters, particularly the MC, to want to know more about what’ll happen to them. If you’re a fan of lyrical prose and friendship stories, All Our Pretty Songs may be a good choice for you. Keep in mind though, this is definitely not for the younger YA audience due to language, some more explicit scenes (nothing too graphic, of course) and a possible bisexual relationship.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I’ve followed Sarah McCarry’s blog since her early days as the awesome and anonymous Rejectionist, and when I saw that her book was coming out, I was thrilled. When I read the premise and the first page–both of which were posted early at her blog–I was obsessed. McCarry has mentioned that Francesca Lia Block’s writing informed a lot of her own, and between the lyrical prose and the mystical premise, it isn’t hard to see how. The nameless narrator has grown up like a sister to her best friend, the beautiful extreme Aurora. They have the kind of easy camaraderie and complex communication that defines close female relationships, and until the day they meet Jack, an almost supernaturally talented musician, nothing has ever come between them. Contrary to what I expected, the story didn’t start out bleak. With the exception of their parents and their upbringings, and a few allusions to how strange both of those are, the first third of the story is surprisingly normal. I loved those descriptions of summer days, falling in love and running wild between jobs and the occasional few hours of sleep. The narrator’s burgeoning relationship with Jack starts off a little fast and reckless perhaps. Their early first kiss made me wonder if the connection they both recognized would extend to anything beyond the physical, but any doubts of mine faded by the next chapter. If anything, I fell in love with Jack just as much as the girls did. I craved more glimpses into his past, his life outside music. Most of the Greek-inspired mythos and culture cropped up in the second half of the story, and that was also when the tension ratcheted up. Because of the comparatively light-hearted first half, the sudden increase in tension could’ve been choppy or uneven, but managed to largely avoid both. The scenes that set up the narrator’s slow descent into the understanding of hell and how closely it intertwines with her friends were creepy because they weren’t completely far-fetched. In fact, the horror came from wondering how much of the nightmare was real. Hell wasn’t as terrifying as it’s sometimes portrayed in other fiction, and that worked for me too. I spent a large portion of the climax alternatively pitying and fearing everyone involved. And that ending! The final few pages left me gaping, wishing I had more pages to turn. McCarry’s next book comes out in a year, I think, and as much as “All Our Pretty Songs” lived up to my expectations, I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel.
KikiD870 More than 1 year ago
All Our Pretty Songs is a truly unusual book.  It is one of those rare reads that I am finding difficult to process, unsure of how I feel about it.  It is a dark and disturbing read in so many ways, something I generally appreciate as it is a more realistic look at life.  The prose is very lyrical, with a sort of altered state feel to it, appropriate to the themes of overindulgence in booze and drugs that are key to the plot.  There are moments when that prose just takes you away from anything and everything that makes sense, but  it always comes back around and sucks you back into the madness. The two main characters, Aurora and our nameless narrator.  Not once is that narrator's name revealed, not even in dialogue.  That was an odd choice, an original approach that I can appreciate.  I think it was a mark of the character's inherent feelings about herself.  Aurora is continually described in an almost ethereal way, beautiful and free-spirited and flirting with danger.  The narrator sees herself as more of a tomboy, less feminine and beautiful than Aurora.  She puts Aurora on a pedestal and seems to see herself as less special, less worthy. The two girls are extremely codependent with one another, after a lifetime of essentially raising themselves and each other.  Their mothers were once the best of friends, but have been estranged for years.  Aurora's mother Maia is a junkie now, spending most of her time in a haze, while Aurora runs wild and free as a rich girl without boundaries.  Cass is the narrator's mother, poor as dirt and a witch hippie with as little mothering skills as her former friend.  Then enters Jack, the older boy of indeterminate age.  He is mysterious and beautiful and talented in a way that seems magical.  So much of the narrator's story waxed poetically about him and his music, with metaphors and similes galore.  But his presence seems to signal inevitable destruction... for himself, for Aurora, and for our narrator. There are moments of clarity throughout the story, but most of seems to take place in a bit of an altered state.  Some of that is due to booze and drugs, but there are moments when it made me wonder about the mental health of the narrator.  It was like she continually lived in another world, another reality, one that was dark and disturbing and based in her own mind.  There is a lot of "stream of consciousness type prose which elevates that altered state sort of feeling. I am not sure how it is possible, but throughout the second half of the book the story became more focused while the prose became increasingly more wandering.  That increased stream of consciousness prose lent itself to the feeling of chaos and further descent into destruction/madness that was taking place. There was a paranormal aspect to this book, to be sure.  But the meandering prose and drug/booze themes sometimes made that aspect seem as much a result of those substances as anything else. Things to love...    --The lyrical, "altered state" prose.    --The emphasis on the narrator's lack of appreciation of herself seen in the lack of a name. Things I wanted more/less of...    --Maia.  There seemed to be some kind of back story with her experiences with Minos. My Recommendation:  This is such an unusual book.  If you like your reads straightforward and clear, this is not the book for you.  But if you enjoy the dark, the disturbing, and the mind trip... this is an excellent read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LitDiva77 More than 1 year ago
Absorbing, gorgeous and stunning. McCarry's voice is original, raw and arresting. 
Alyssa75 More than 1 year ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry Book One of a trilogy Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin Publication Date: July 30, 2013 Rating: 1 star Source: eARC from NetGalley Summary (from Goodreads): Set against the lush, magical backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, two inseparable best friends who have grown up like sisters—the charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora and the devoted, soulful, watchful narrator—find their bond challenged for the first time ever when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them. Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love. What both girls don’t know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined. They’re not the only ones who have noticed Jack’s gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil—and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all. The real and the mystical; the romantic and the heartbreaking all begin to swirl together, carrying the two on journey that is both enthralling and terrifying. And it’s up to the narrator to protect the people she loves—if she can. What I Liked: Literally, nothing. I'm sorry, I don't say this a lot, but this book appealed to me in absolutely NO WAY. Just the cover, I suppose. And the glowing synopsis. Gosh. I really, really wanted to like this book, but it totally fell flat for me. What I Did Not Like: There isn't much to this book. It's extremely short (something like 240 pages, which seems even shorter on a Kindle), and it's not what I would call dense. I'd seen a few things about this book before reading the book - that the author has a beautiful writing style, beautiful prose, a really beautiful way with words. Also, the synopsis leads us to believe that there is some powerful romance, an amazing friendship, and some mythical aspect to the novel. Sounds great, right? Well. I'll start with the writing style. I really don't see what's so beautiful and amazing and gripping about it. I found the writing style and the narration boring and repetitive and not at all engaging. I was expecting something fabulous, something dynamic that would sweep me off my feet - and instead, I got flat, boring, lifeless narration, brought on by a not-so-awesome writing style. Then there's the fact that this book is really short, and not that dense, and not a lot happens in this book. Literally, all that happens is the narrator describes her life with her best friend, then Jack appears, the narrator falls in love with Jack, but then Aurora (the best friend) does too, and then Jack and and Aurora disappear, and the narrator feels the need to save them. TRUST ME when I saw that my cute summary above is more interesting than the entire book. NOTHING HAPPENS. The first part of the book WITHOUT Jack is the narrator describing how not-hot she is, and how gorgeous and perfect Aurora is. She describes how Aurora barely remembers her dad, and how she (the narrator) doesn't know her dad. Then Jack comes along, and sweeps the narrator off her feet. That really irritates me - that Jack appears and the narrator and him just fall in love. It's total insta-love, insta-lust, whatever. There is no powerful love story in this book. I don't see or feel any all-encompassing pull between Jack and the narrator, that makes them soul mates, or something. It's complete insta-love, with a giant dose of lust. Seriously. They cannot keep their hands off each other, and all the narrator can think about is Jack, so much that she can't see straight. So much that she doesn't realize when her best friend falls in love (or lust) with Jack as well. Assuming I understood that correctly from the story. There is a good chance that I didn't understand the entire story. I originally thought that Aurora and the narrator had the same dad - which would make the constant "close like sisters" references make sense - but I never got an explanation on that (surprise!). I kind of hated the narrator throughout the entire story. She acts like a tough girl - she even thinks she's tough - but she bows to whatever Aurora wants. She runs off with Jack at every chance. She blindly tries to get Aurora and Jack from whatever hell they put themselves in (I seriously mean hell - that's the mythological part). She constantly tells Aurora that no one means more to her than Aurora, but when Jack comes along, we know that's not true. Everything is Aurora, Aurora, Aurora, and Jack, Jack, Jack. I expected some sort of threesome to happen at some point in the book - in which I would have STOPPED, and clocked in my first DNF. I don't know about your sexual preferences, but threesomes are NOT for me. So, there is a love triangle, sort of. And I hate all three people in the love triangle. You know it's bad when you disliked (hate) all of the main characters in the book. The only character that I could stomach was the narrator's friend who saves her at the end (and I cannot remember his name, for crying out loud!). I touched on this, but the plot is ridiculous. It feels like NOTHING happens, and then at the last couple of percents, the narrator goes on some life-changing quest to get Aurora and Jack, and that all in itself is so confusing and pointless and UGH! Can the author at least TRY to explain ANYTHING?! I don't understand  the "mythology" part of the book. I'm putting it in quotes because I don't even know if it's mythology, or the narrator is doing drugs or drinking alcohol, or the narrator is off her rocker. No characterization (the narrator does not grow up AT ALL), no plot, no explanation, crap romance... how did I even finish this book?! Thank goodness it was so short - because I remember getting violently angry on so many occasions while reading this book. Good thing I love my Kindle. I think that the people who say the author's writing is beautiful must have a better understanding of how to muddle through confusion nonsense nothings that make absolutely NO SENSE. It's rare that a book confuses me. It's rare that an author twists a story that I can't figure out. It's also BAD when I meet a story that I can't understand, because I am not stupid, and yet, I cannot make head or tail of this book. I'm done. I apologize to the author, the publishing house, and the team of people who worked hard to get this book to where it is. But to me? This book is absolutely awful and a complete waste of my time. (and we all know how many books are out there...) Would I Recommend It: No. Nonononononono. Do NOT make the mistake of thinking that there is a pretty cover, a wonderful romance, and a mysterious story waiting for beneath that deceptive cover. Like I did, unfortunately. I had really high hopes for this book, and it ended up being an utter disappointment. Rating: 1 star. Trust me when I say that I would have given it 0 stars, had I the chance.
donniedarkogirl More than 1 year ago
**I received a copy of this book through Netgalley from the publisher for an honest review. Thank you to St. Martin's Griffin!** I was so excited when I was approved on Netgalley by the publisher, St. Martin's Griffin, to review a copy of this book! I don't think I've ever read a book this early. Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Griffin for giving me a copy for an honest review. First of all, I think it's hilarious I didn't even realize the narrator is unnamed. Yep. I must not be as observant as I thought. I honestly didn't know it until I finished the book and read a couple of my blogger friends' reviews where they mentioned it. It didn't affect my reading experience since I didn't even notice, and I think it's different and unique. There must be a special reason for not naming the narrator, and I love speculating what that reason could be. I'm not even sure I want to know why because it's so much fun coming up with my own theories. When I finished the book, I wrote the following on Goodreads: "Wow. I don't even know what to say except it'll take me a while to process everything that's happened. Beautiful, lyrical writing." This book was so strange, but in a good way. First of all, the title caught my eye as it's part of the lyrics to a Nirvana song, and I'm a Nirvana fan for sure. I was a teen of the nineties during the grunge era when my friends and I wore concert T-shirts with flannel and Doc Martens. This book had me reminscing about those awesome days when it seemed like the coolest bands around were all coming from Seattle and Portland. So much happened that I couldn't stop thinking about it for days afterward, and I still think about it from time to time. Something I pass by will remind me of a moment from the story. It's one of those books I want to read a few times over because I know I'll pick up more from the story each time much like my favorite movie of all time, Donnie Darko. That's a movie that doesn't seem to make any sense the first time you watch it, but each time you watch it again, you pick up something new that enhances the storytelling. That's exactly how I think this book will be. I think the biggest part I needed time to wrap my head around was the shift that seemed sudden from the first half of the book to the second half. The first half seemed like a contemporary young adult novel, but once you reach the second half, it switches to full on fantasy and mythology, which I found a bit jarring but really interesting and cool. I wish there had been more mythology in the story because those were my favorite parts. I believe I read somewhere that there's going to be a second book, so I'm looking forward to delving back into the narrator's world. I think this is going to be one of those books where people will either love it or hate it. I doubt there will be any inbetween. Personally, I recommend this book. I guarantee you'll have a completely different reading experience than any you've ever had.