May 30, 2012

Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Published: 2006, Dutton Juvenile
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Library book

It rather goes without saying that Katherine drank her coffee black. Katherines do, generally. They like their coffee like they like their ex-boyfriends: bitter.

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. He's also a washed-up child prodigy with ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a passion for anagrams, and an overweight, Judge Judy-obsessed best friend. Colin's on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which will predict the future of all relationships, transform him from a fading prodigy into a true genius, and finally win him the girl. Letting expectations go and allowing love in are at the heart of Colin's hilarious quest to find his missing piece and avenge dumpees everywhere. - Goodreads

I'd like to note first how absolutely ridiculous this book is. Colin is all of eighteen years old and he's "dated" nineteen girls (well, eighteen actually) who all happen to share the same name with same spelling. Even though a lot of his relationships lasted only a few days or even less, I find it hard to believe that someone like Colin would have had nineteen experiences with girls in general, let alone all girls with the same name. He's portrayed as super nerdy and not terribly attractive and frequently unaware of how to act around others. I felt the need to suspend my disbelief of Colin's characterization just a little bit for this book.

I do think, however, that Green is aware of the absurdity of his book and does poke fun of it. I enjoy when authors are self-aware of the type of book they wrote. A lot of the book's humor focuses on Colin's prodigy tendencies (like his compulsive need to create anagrams for everything and his burning desire to perfect The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability), so parts of reading the book felt like I was part of an inside joke. So that made it a little better for me and made me realize that I didn't need to take everything in this book quite so seriously.

In terms of characters, I can admit that I didn't really like any of them. I found myself amused, frustrated, touched, and confused by them. Colin and his best friend Hassan in particular seem to be larger-than-life characters. And the story itself seemed that way many times. But I loved how it is the small town of Gutshot, Tennessee that brings a smidgeon of reality down upon the story, and that through their isolation from "modern" society Colin and Hassan are able to acquire more humanity. Although I was not overly fond of either character, I liked their friendship and how well they balanced each other out.

I did empathize with Colin's personal journey through the book. Basically all of his conflicts and decisions stemmed from the fact that he is afraid of the future, of not knowing what will happen next. Lately many of my friends and peers, myself included,  have had similar existential crises. It's a scary thought not to know where life is heading next. Colin knows he is going to college, but the basic tenets of his life have still been called into question. Although it takes Colin a long time to reconcile any personal doubts, I think that his final revelations are wonderful and wrap up the book in a completely believable way.  

Despite the overall themes and messages (which I enjoyed), this was not the book for me. I'm not really into humor or absurdities, and this book is rife with them. I'm not sure if that's Green's normal writing style, or if this book in particular just demanded him to write in this fashion.
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May 28, 2012

In My Mailbox #3

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. It's a way for book bloggers to showcase books and other literary things they've received over the past week.

Borrowed from my local library:

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Amazon synopsis: With her rare ability to breathe fire, Jacinda is special even among the draki—the descendants of dragons who can shift between human and dragon forms. But when Jacinda’s rebelliousness forces her family to flee into the human world, she struggles to adapt, even as her draki spirit fades. The one thing that revives it is the gorgeous, elusive Will, whose family hunts her kind. Jacinda can’t resist getting closer to him, even though she knows she’s risking not only her life but the draki’s most closely guarded secret. 

Terrier by Tamora Pierce

Amazon synopsis: Beka Cooper is a rookie with the law-enforcing Provost's Guard, and she's been assigned to the Lower City. It's a tough beat that's about to get tougher, as Beka's limited ability to communicate with the dead clues her in to an underworld conspiracy. Someone close to Beka is using dark magic to profit from the Lower City's criminal enterprises--and the result is a crime wave the likes of which the Provost's Guard has never seen before.

Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

Amazon synopsis: Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home . . . or so he believes. Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been taken roughly and lovingly in hand by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper with a warrior's discipline. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds in its surreal royal court. Soon he must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad princess in this barren and mysterious place. It is in Charyn that he will discover there is a song sleeping in his blood . . . and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Amazon synopsis: "You can't touch me," I whisper.
I'm lying, is what I don't tell him.
He can touch me, is what I'll never tell him.
But things happen when people touch me.
Strange things.
Bad things. 

No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon.
But Juliette has plans of her own.
After a lifetime without freedom, she's finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she'd lost forever.

All of these are series, which isn't ideal. I prefer standalone novels. But I am nonetheless super excited to read some of these! All the covers look absolutely amazing! I have Melina Marchetta in the pile again - I can't help myself when it comes to her. And Tamora Pierce! I love the Alanna, Daine, and Kel quartets. I can't wait to read about another badass Tortallan female. Firelight and Shatter Me should also help me fill my current fantasy/science fiction cravings.
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May 23, 2012

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Published: 2011, HarperTeen
Series: Delirium, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Fantasy
Source: Library book

That’s what Hana doesn’t understand, has never understood. For some of us, it’s about more than the deliria. Some of us, the lucky ones, will get the chance to be reborn: newer, fresher, better. Healed and whole and perfect again, like a misshapen slab of iron that comes out of the fire glowing, glittering, razor sharp.

That is all I want - all I have ever wanted. That is the promise of the cure.

In a future United States, love has become enemy number one. All of society's bad decisions and troublesome thoughts can be attributed to infections of amor deliria nervosa, or so the government would have everyone believe. In order to make society safer and better, the "cure" for this sickness is that once people reach their eighteenth birthday, they undergo a surgery where all of their emotions are dulled so that love can no longer rule their actions.

All of her life, Lena has been living with the fear that she'll become infected, just like her mother was. Just like her sister was. But her sister was cured and now is able to live a normal life, while her mother resisted and eventually committed suicide. Lena worries that whatever was wrong with her mother could have been passed on to her, so she is counting down the days until her own operation. But on her examination day, only months before her procedure, something unexpected happens. And she, of all people, falls in love. And not just with any boy, but with an uncured boy from the society outside of the town that does not believe in the operation. As her own operation day approaches rapidly, Lena begins to question the government's view of amor deliria nervosa and the beliefs she's held onto for the entirety of her life thus far.

Can I first say that I loved this premise of Lauren Oliver’s Delirium? The idea of a dystopia creating the ideal environment for forbidden love is not a new one by any means, but it was interesting to see a society where love, of all things, is blamed for all of the societal problems.

I actually liked Lena as the protagonist. She's not the most exciting narrator but, unlike with some other YA books, Lena's blandness made sense. At the beginning of the book she completely buys into the indoctrination of the government. Love is bad. She fears getting infected. She wants her surgery done as fast as possible. It is refreshing that Lena is not a rebel from day one. I feel like so many dystopian books want to focus on those who know that the governmental system is flawed from the beginning. Yes, I would have had a problem with Lena if she did not eventually come to this conclusion, but it was nice to be privy to Lena's evolving thoughts and beliefs.

With that being said, I do wish there was even more of a struggle for Lena to figure out what she believes in. I felt as though she went from a complete product of society, unable to even listen to any of her friend Hana's words that everything in their society isn't perfect, to a rebel rather quickly. And then, once she meets Alex, she is willing to sneak off to parties, stay out past curfew, and have illicit meetings with a boy. It does take Lena a while to fully understand her society's flaws, but even before she accepts those flaws she is willing to break laws and do things that she consistently has been told are bad. Why? I don't feel like there was enough introspection on Lena's part to justify her behavior changes. It was convenient for the story to progress, but didn't seem entirely realistic to me.

Although this book is definitely a love story and focuses on the romantic relationship between Lena and Alex, Oliver does mention other types of love. Lena has been struggling to reconcile her mother's actions for years. She knew it was wrong that her mother cared so deeply for Lena and her sister Rachel. She knew that her mother was unhappy so much of the time, that she was unable to get past some of her feelings. And yet Lena enjoyed the feelings that came along with knowing that she was loved. Over the course of the book, Lena realizes just how much she'll lose from her life if she undergoes this operation and can no longer feel love not only for Alex, but also for her best friend Hana or even her little cousin Grace. Not only is romantic love at stake in Oliver's dystopian world, but all forms of strong relationships between people. Oliver could have made this book just about romantic love, but it becomes stronger and resonated so much more for me to think about how many different ways humans experience feelings akin to love.

I loved the excerpts of official documents, nursery rhymes, The Book of Shh, and other forms of literature that were at the beginning of each chapter. They helped give a little more context to the society and its overall mentality towards love. They still were not enough for me to fully contextualize this society, however.  Some major questions that I had while reading the book had to do with the historical context and events that led the government to believe that love really was the cause of all problems. I mean, there had to have been something (or a few things) major that happened to cause the government to go from seeing love as merely undesirable into seeing it as a major threat. And I want to know why the people were so willing to go along with this interpretation of all society's evils.

Oliver clearly has a gift with words. Her writing style is very poetic. For me, however, it was not enough to cover up all the questions and skepticism that went along with my reading of the book. I will still read the sequel, Pandemonium, but I think right now I'm more interested in Oliver's debut novel, Before I Fall.
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May 21, 2012

Review: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Published: 2008, HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Library book

So I go back to the stories I’ve read about the five and I try to make sense of their lives because in making sense of theirs, I may understand mine.

Melina Marchetta has done it again for me. I read Finnikin of the Rock in January and, although it took me a little while to really get into the book, it is one of the best books I've read so far this year. I started reading Jellicoe Road with somewhat high expectations because of that. I did need a similar adjustment period to really get into Jellicoe Road (and perhaps it was a little longer simply because contemporary fiction is not my preferred genre and the beginning is tough to figure out), but it was definitely worth my time and maybe, just maybe, made me realize that not all contemporary YA fiction is bad, that some can actually be quite good.

Jellicoe Road holds many memories for Taylor Markham. She was abandoned by her mother at a convenience store alongside the road when she was eleven. She was then taken in by Hannah, who becomes her mentor, and raised at the boarding school just down the road for state wards, troubled children, and a few delinquents. It is now the holiday season before Taylor's senior year at school and she has been appointed the leader of school in the annual territory war fought between school children, townies, and cadets each September. And then Hannah abruptly leaves, and Taylor finds out that the cadet leader is Jonah Griggs, a boy she got to know a few years ago when she first went searching for her mother. Add in the fact that Taylor keeps dreaming about a boy and his friends who lived on the Jellicoe Road twenty years ago and now things have gotten just a little complicated.

Taylor has been a virtual orphan for nearly half her life, so it is her relationships with her friends that define her more than anything else. Ever since Taylor’s mother abandoned her, Hannah has been there for Taylor, giving her a place at the school and looking out for her. My first reading did not give me quite the understanding of Hannah that I would have liked (she is absent for the large majority of the book), but through my second reading I really was able to appreciate her character more. Besides Hannah, Taylor does not really have anyone she can rely upon. She closes herself off from others and even lashes out occasionally. Taylor doesn’t know how to deal with her memories or what she wants from life.

Enter Raffy, Santangelo, and Jonah Griggs. Although they all come from different backgrounds (Raffy is from Taylor’s house at school but grew up in the town, Santangelo is a townie, and Griggs is a cadet), the three of them form a friendship with Taylor, not unlike the one formed between the five children of the past. And through them, Taylor’s able to learn to trust others and open up just a little bit more. I especially loved Griggs’ relationship with Taylor. They first meet at a train station when Taylor was fourteen and decided to leave school to find her mother. And now they meet again as ostensible enemy leaders in the territory wars. Although it is tragic how broken both of them are, their relationship is nothing but positive. Instead of bringing each other down, they begin to heal themselves by healing the other. Yes, attraction is part of their relationship, but that's not the focus. There's just something beautiful about them struggling with personal insecurities and using their own pain to help each other.

Although Taylor is the protagonist and the book mostly follows her perspective, there are occasional interruptions from the novel's main storyline. The secondary storyline follows the lives of five children who also once called Jellicoe Road home: Tate, Webb, Narnie, Fitz, and Jude. I'm not going to lie - at first I had no idea what the point of this secondary storyline was, or why I should care about these kids. Once I did start figuring out the importance of the secondary storyline and its characters, I enjoyed, like Taylor, trying to piece together bits of the past to see how they affected her present day. The story about the five children is so poignant, and I belatedly wished for even more scenes between the children. Even after finishing the book, however, I still had some difficulty remembering the specific characterizations of each child. Because I spent so much time reading these sections and not fully understanding them, this book is definitely worth future rereads. The secondary storyline becomes critical to Taylor's future narrative, and tons of information from these sections that simply went over my head during my first reading.

While reading this book, I found myself asking a lot of hard questions about humans and human behavior, none that are easily answerable in the book or in real life. I loved that! I love it when I can get so into a book that many of its themes do start intermingling with my real life. I think it's the mark of great skill on the author's part. All of Marchetta's characters are so flawed, so human. They each have their fair share of mistakes, and in many ways the book shows readers how Taylor and company are able to look past the bad faults and see how people are so much more complicated, that the simple sum of their actions still is not enough to fully understand one another.

Jellicoe Road is not quite the light read I was expecting, but that's not a bad thing by any means. It was a thought-provoking look at the common YA theme of self-discovery. Beautifully written, beautifully told. Definitely worth a read (and, for people like me who like to be able to put everything together and understand as much as possible, at least one additional reread).

A Note:  It took me a very long time to think of anything to write for this review. And then once I did, I wasn’t sure I had really even begun to capture what the story was about. So I reread it and edited my review. Definitely a complex book, but probably the best contemporary YA book I’ve ever read.
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May 15, 2012

Review: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
Published: 2006, Viking
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Library book

Just Listen was recommended to me by my friend as her favorite Sarah Dessen novel, and the best as a first exposure to Dessen's work. My feelings towards this novel are complicated. I liked it. Really, I did. I definitely thought that Dessen focused on some important messages and understood the needs of her target teenage audience. But it's not a novel I'd feel the need to ever read again.

Something happened at the end of the school year last year, something so big that it has completely destroyed Annabel Greene's relationship with her best friend, Sophie, and then her self-imposed isolation over the summer alienated her from anyone else who would have cared. Annabel starts out the school year starring in a local department store’s back-to-school commercials as “the girl who has everything.” But her real life couldn’t be any further from the truth.

Annabel has been modeling practically since her birth, following in the footsteps of her older sisters Kirsten and Whitney. Although she is the youngest child, Annabel acts like the typical middle child in so many ways. She’s not as outspoken and friendly as Kirsten, nor is she as beautiful and mysterious as Whitney. Over the years, Annabel has learned to keep her thoughts to herself. She doesn’t enjoy modeling anymore, but she knows that to quit it would break her mother’s heart. After Whitney is diagnosed with anorexia, Annabel does everything she can to not add additional complications to her family’s life. But the problem is that by doing all this Annabel is repressing who she truly is.

Annabel’s process of learning to be true to herself is a very long one. Her interactions with everyone are strained, especially with her family. Through a series of flashbacks, the reader sees instances of how life used to be for Annabel, and what happened that caused her life to take this turn. The most important part of Annabel’s self-acceptance is, naturally, a boy. Owen Armstrong uses music to define his life and strongly believes in telling the truth in all circumstances, no matter how much the truth hurts.

I thought the characters were generally likable. Annabel is a decent narrator. Besides my initial sympathy that her life really does suck when the book begins, I didn't feel too strongly about Annabel. I ended up liking her a lot more when Annabel is finally able to start confronting her issues. And my heart went out for her once she finally reveals what caused her to completely close off and hide her feelings from the world. I think that the Annabel at the end of the book has become someone I'd actually like to know. As the love interest, I thought Owen was okay. I understand that his characterization and role are integral in helping out Annabel. However, Owen's strong convictions (and, dare I say it, self-righteousness) are annoying at parts. I did like the idea of how Owen uses music to get through his own problems, and that he and Annabel are able to connect through music. The other characters are not bad, but neither are they great. It is frustrating when I do not feel strongly towards any of the characters within a novel.
My biggest gripe with this book is how by the end Dessen seems to ignore the ever-important "show, don't tell" rule in books. One particular scene near the end of the novel, where Annabel is finally taking initiative and trying to solve her problems, has the potential to be very powerful. But instead of showing that scene, Dessen leaves the reader hanging. Actually, quite a few of the major decisions that Annabel makes are succinctly summarized within the last twenty pages. I'm not against summarization in novels, but since these particular decisions are the result of much struggle on the protagonist's part, it would have been nice to have read the scenes actually drawn out.

I think that Dessen's novel does a great job of showing how complicated our lives can become, and how easy it is to let the problems and worries of others consume us. I do love how music inspires both Owen and Annabel to find meaning in their lives and helps give Annabel the courage to finally speak the truth and live her life in the way that she wants. I also liked how focused Dessen is in explaining the Greene family dynamics. Family definitely has a huge role in the personal development of teens, but is not always a focus in teen lit. In general I do not enjoy contemporary YA lit; however, that's a personal preference, and I do think I'd recommend it to others who like this genre.
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May 13, 2012

In My Mailbox #2

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. It's a way for book bloggers to showcase books and other literary things they've received over the past week.

This week I came into possession of quite a few books.

Borrowed from my local library:

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Goodreads Synopsis: Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything"—at least that's the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf's Department Store.This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong. Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen's help,maybe Annabel can face what happened
the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Goodreads Synopsis: When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. He's also a washed-up child prodigy with ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a passion for anagrams, and an overweight, Judge Judy-obsessed best friend. Colin's on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which will predict the future of all relationships, transform him from a fading prodigy into a true genius, and finally win him the girl. Letting expectations go and allowing love in are at the heart of Colin's hilarious quest to find his missing piece and avenge dumpees everywhere.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Goodreads Synopsis: Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Purchased as an e-book: 

Entangled by Nikki Jefford

Goodreads Synopsis: Twin witches Graylee and Charlene Perez agree on one rule: No dating warlocks.
Not so easy when a certain rogue warlock is convinced he and Graylee belong together and will use anything, including magic, to try and impress Gray. When Charlene’s boyfriend dumps her, she threatens to kill either herself or the girl who stole Blake. Somehow, Gray ends up dead.
A Resurrection Spell Gone Wrong:

Two months after dying, Gray wakes up in Charlene’s body. As a witch, can anyone blame her mother for attempting to bring her daughter back to life? Only now Gray’s stuck sharing her sister’s body 50/50 in twenty-four hour shifts.
The race is on for Gray to find a way back inside her own body before Charlene purges her from existence. Raj McKenna is rumored to meddle in the black arts, not to mention he’s after Gray’s invisibility spell and worse – her heart. But Raj might be the only one powerful enough to save Gray from fading away forever.

Half the books I got this week are contemporary YA. Unusual since that's not my preferred genre. But John Green and Sarah Dessen are popular YA authors, so I felt like I had to read at least one thing by each of them. I'm definitely excited to read Delirium and get back into some dystopian fiction. As for Entangled, it sounds interesting and was only 99 cents via Amazon (and has since become free). I'd say a good book week overall.
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May 10, 2012

Review: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
Published: 2010, Orbit
Series: The Inheritance Trilogy, #1
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: Library book
I absolutely love books whose major conflict is literally a ticking time bomb. Although it's hard for me to read too many of these in succession, there's something about the immediacy of the situations in these novels that draws me even further into those worlds. Of course, if there's little else to offset the major conflict in the novel, then it can quickly become old for my feelings to solely center around anticipation. Not only does The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms have the threat of time looming over the protagonist's head, but N.K. Jemisin really goes into detail with her characterization and worldbuilding, leaving the readers other things to care about besides this one major conflict, which I definitely appreciated.

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May 8, 2012

Top Ten Favorite Quotes from Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the bloggers of The Broke and the Bookish. This week everyone is supposed to post his/her top ten favorite quotes from books. 

This was a hard challenge for me, in part because I find it hard to determine how I should define a favorite quote. Is it one that is profound, hitting at some important truth? Or is it something that’s beautifully written? Or something that makes me smile or tear up? The quotes I’ve chosen below are some quotes that I consider to be the most memorable – for the reasons I’ve listed above and more.

“Tell me one last thing,” said Harry. “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?”
Dumbledore beamed at him, and his voice sounded loud and strong in Harry’s ears even though the bright mist was descending again, obscuring his figure.
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why earth should that mean that it is not real?”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The king lifted a hand to her cheek and kissed her. It was not a kiss between strangers, not even a kiss between a bride and groom. It was a kiss between a man and his wife, and when it was over, the king closed his eyes and rested his forehead in the hollow of the queen's shoulder, like a man seeking respite, like a man reaching home at the end of the day.
― Megan Whalen Turner, The King of Attolia

I had been able to break the curse myself. I’d had to have reason enough, love enough to do it, to find the will and the strength. My safety from the ogres hadn’t been enough; zhulpH’s rescue hadn’t been enough, especially not with guards about; my slavery to Mum Olga hadn’t been enough. Kyrria was enough. Char was enough.
Now it was over. Ended forever. I was made anew. Ella. Just Ella. Not Ella, the slave. Not a scullery maid. Not Lela. Not Eleanor. Ella. Myself unto myself. One. Me.  
― Gail Carson Levine, Ella Enchanted

The wind was strong on the cliff, and it whipped his hair across his face. Suddenly her hand reached out to hold it back. When he felt her fingers, he flinched; he had not been touched with such gentleness since his childhood. He was no stranger to women and had felt their hands on all parts of his body, but her touch made him feel like he belonged someplace.
― Melina Marchetta, Finnikin of the Rock

“And if I should leave you, for any reason,” he added, tightening his grip as she struggled to free her hand, “I will return to you. That is as certain as the sun rising tomorrow morning and the thunderbolt falling tomorrow night. That is as sure as the god's existence. I will come back to you, or I will find you - over and over again, as often as we are parted, until the end of the world itself.”
― Sharon Shinn, Archangel

And I came to believe that good and evil are names for what people do, not for what they are. All we can say is that this is a good deed, because it helps someone or that's an evil one because it hurts them. People are too complicated to have simple labels.
― Philip Pullman, The Amber Spyglass

If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I'm neurotic as hell. I'll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days.
― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Although Gwen had looked like the same girl wearing her brother’s clothes, Ash looked like a stranger. And if she looked nothing like herself, she thought, then she couldn’t possibly be herself. Perhaps her entire life – all her memories, thoughts, emotions – would melt away from her, leaving only the flesh-and-bone shell behind.
― Malinda Lo, Ash

We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.
We lived in the gaps between the stories.
― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale

“What was that?” Belgarath asked, coming back around the corner.
“Brill,” Silk replied blandly, pulling his Murgo robe back on.
“Again?” Belgarath demanded with exasperation. “What was he doing this time?”
“Trying to fly, last time I saw him.” Silk smirked.
The old man looked puzzled.
“He wasn't doing it very well,” Silk added.
Belgarath shrugged. “Maybe it'll come to him in time.”
“He doesn't really have all that much time.” Silk glanced out over the edge.
From far below - terribly far below - there came a faint, muffled crash; then, after several seconds, another. “Does bouncing count?” Silk asked.
Belgarath made a wry face. “Not really.”
“Then I'd say he didn't learn in time.” Silk said blithely.
― David Eddings, Magician's Gambit

Have you read any of these books? Are any of these among your favorite quotes? 
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May 6, 2012

In My Mailbox #1

This is my very first post for In My Mailbox, a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. It's a way for book bloggers to showcase books and other literary things they've received over the past week.

Depending on how frequently I get new books, I may participate on a biweekly schedule, or perhaps only monthly. I will only participate when I have new and exciting things to showcase, and this week I do happen to have two.

Borrowed from my local library:

Goodreads Synopsis: "What do you want from me?" he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.

Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn't a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.
In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.


Goodreads Synopsis: Trained in the magical art of shadow-weaving, sixteen-year-old Suzume is able to re-create herself in any form - a fabulous gift for a girl desperate to escape her past. But who is she really? Is she a girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother's new husband, Lord Terayama? Or a lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama's kitchens? Or is she Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands? Whatever her true identity, Suzume is destined to use her skills to steal the heart of a prince in a revenge plot to destroy Terayama. And nothing will stop her, not even the one true aspect of her life- her love for a fellow shadow-weaver.

I think the covers for both these books are beautiful! The first I've wanted to read after hearing positive praise (and I adore Melina Marchetta's Finnikin of the Rock). The second is a Cinderella retelling in Japan. How cool is that? I'm also a sucker for any fairy-tale retellings.

Read either of those? Received any good books yourself? Let me know!

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May 5, 2012


“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
― Charles William Eliot
It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I absolutely adore reading books. Always have, always will. Once I first learned how to read, I was hooked. The books I enjoy to read have changed over the years, but I still find myself unable to sleep at night without first reading at least twenty pages of a novel (hence I have spent many late nights with some fantastic books).

I've enjoyed writing for nearly as long as I've enjoyed reading. Up until recently, however, I never really combined those interests outside of academia. I would read to get inspiration, to figure out what I thought worked and didn't work in others' writing, to help me create my own stories. Most, if not all, reflection of the books I read was internal.

But it can be hard for me to find time to write creatively. Once I discovered the existence of goodreads, and, later, book blogs, I realized that I could find time to write on a regular basis, even if it was only to review another's work. Writing regularly about anything can only strengthen my own writing, and my hope is that writing reviews about others' works will give me the boost to work more consistently on my own writing.

If this blog can inspire me to read more, think critically about books and writing, and write more myself, then that's all I need to be satisfied. I look forward to becoming part of the dynamic book blogging community!
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