guys, this is making me all teary-eyed

I had my blogoversary a few days ago.

But it took me up until now to say:

Thanks for following, for stopping by, for indulging me in my craziness from time to time. I really am so happy that I started this blog and that it didn't die on the way, and that somehow people out in the world are reading it--something that still boggles my mind.

I've come a far way since August 2009. Hopefully, my blogging writing has improved. I know my reading tastes have changed. Lots of things have changed. But mostly, it's been really cool documenting my reading journey on this blog--and coolest of all having readers like you.

A lot happens in a year--blog-wise, but mostly I remember meeting so many awesome bloggers, and reading their posts and thoughts and sort of marveling at what a great community this is.

So again, thanks. Thanks for making my first year blogging a really great one.



how books bring out my baser instincts

Mom: Aheh. Didn't you already buy it off Amazon?
Mom: okaaay, let me just drive you to the bookstore...*moves slowlyslowlyslowy*
Me: FASTER, LADY! *scampers into the night*

Me: *drools*
Other girl: Look, the last copy of Mockingjay on the shelf!
Me and Other girl: *TENSE GLARE*
Other girl: No, MINE!
Other girl: *swivels*
Me: *snatches book*'

Me: look, the last cushy chair! *barrels over unknowing crowds* MINE MINE MINE MINE.
Boy: If you're leaving can I have that seat?
Me: ARGHHHHHH! *bares teeth*

Dad: You've got a package!
Me: GRAWWWWWWWWWWWWW! *pounces on Amazon box*
Dad: Err. *backs away*
Me: FORK, MEET TAPE! *stabs box repeatedly with fork*
MOCKINGJAY! YOU! FOUND! *cuddles with shiny books*

my initial, gut reaction to mockingjay (non-spoilery)

So I caved today, and read Mockingjay in the bookstore because I just couldn't take the suspense anymore. I finished a hour or two ago.

Usually, it's a terrible idea to write a review only an hour or two after I've finished reading something.

So I'll just say this is my immediate reaction.

3-word opinion: Errm. Wow. Sort of?


While Collins maintains that engrossing style of hers that entranced readers with her previous two books, there was something that was definitely missing for me in Mockingjay. I don't know--reading the last book, I was expecting to love it, but it didn't feel like the conclusion to this epic trilogy--it felt like just any other book. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't take-your-breath-away material.

Of course, there were bits of the elements I'd loved in HG and CF--Collins inventiveness when it came to the gadgets in this dystopian world, the way the betrayals and twists in the book play out.


But then, there's Katniss, who's been sort of carved out from her former fierce self to something a lot more passive. I began to feel quite bad for her because the doom and gloom never let up for that poor girl--she's constantly on defense, constantly being pushed around, right up to the very last chapter. For me, I'd like to have seen Katniss come into her own for this book. Sadly, it' didn't really happen--that girl got destroyed repeatedly throughout the book, and by the ending, no matter what Collins wrote, it was just too late to restore Katniss from anything other than a complete mess.


And then, there's the deterioration of the book into little more than a bloody war scene. Sort of like in movies where bam, a whole hour of people killing each other just happens in front of you, but doesn't really have any meaning or evoke any emotional response other than "Wow, that's a lot of blood." (that was me for the half of Mockingjay.)


Also, the way Collins handled the love triangle was sort of strange, too--Katniss never really flat-out said anything straight up to Gale or Peeta, and her decision came very suddenly.


The epilogue (as so often with otherwise wonderful series *cough* HP *cough*) fell short, and just felt so completely wrong--doing nothing to prevent the shaky ending from just sort of collapsing in itself. To me, The epilogue was so completely at odds with the tone and Katniss' proclamations in the rest of the book.

I dunno. I think Mockingjay was mildly depressing, but I would never have dreamt of not reading the final book in this series. I'm just sort of feeling deflated right now :/ I guess it's just me not being a fan--in general--of so much battle/war/death without the emotional context. Still, I feel like such a downer amongst the Mockingjay fandom! If only I could love it more than I do right now.

Criticisms aside, I do think Collins is really awesome at storytelling, and I love her and her books A LOT A LOT A LOT. In retrospect, Mockingjay is a pretty respectable, un-put-downable book.

We'll see if it grows on meeee! (Hopefully it will.)


captivating thursday


And some vids (more than usual) to offset the lack of quotes/ poetry :)

I love Andrew Bird and his violin--it's so beautiful:

One of the best ideas for a music videos ever, plus a great song. Watch closely, it's really cool when you do.

I have to warn you, this one of Sylvia Plath's picture talking is creepy. Really creepy, but I love the poem.


mockingjay anxiety


It's coming out tomorrow.

^I think that was probably the most useless sentence I've ever written on this blog--since unless you were living under a rock, you are probably right here with me counting down the seconds with a sort of jittery air, and conjuring up mental images of what the silky smooth pages of Mockingjay will feel like under your fingertips.

Or perhaps you are lucky and already have it in your hands?

IF SO, GET OUT OF HERE. (I eez v. jealous).

I preordered it, but Amazon, by some cruel joke, has decided to deliver it on "August 30, 2010."



The agonies of ordering from interwebs companies are unparalleled. Amazon, you silly mammoth-who-doesn't-deliver-when-I-want-you-too!

I have been very lax on my Mockingjay preparation--I didn't even reread Hunger Games and Catching Fire, but only because I thought it would accelerate my sense of longing. (Darn you, Catching Fire cliffhanger ending!)

So now I wait until the 30th, unless I crack on Friday (nearest time since I don't have to deal with tests of homework) and hop over to B&N and spend several hours reading with a frappucino in hand--both reacquainting myself and saying goodbye (*tear*) to Katniss and Peeta and Gale and the Capitol.

It's weird knowing that this time next week, most of everyone will know exactly what has happened. There's a sort of sadness to when a series ends--I remember HP a few years back--when I'd grown up to a book being released every few years.

I didn't grow up with HG, exactly, but I still love it.

Very much.

Who else isn't getting to--despite their wishes--to read it on Tuesday? Someone comfort me here, haha.



Aside from Harry Potter and Narnia, here are some of my favorite middle grade/ young adult fantasy books. A lot of them are series. Again, as in my post 10 YA CONTEMPORARY BOOKS YOU SHOULD READ, I tried to keep it succinct with the reason I love a book.

Links to goodreads and/or my reviews. Sadly, haven't gotten to reviewing a lot of them yet.

by Diana Wynne Jones

One of my favorite DWJ books* (who just happens to be one of my favorite authors, ever)--Howl's Moving Castle is a lovely mishmash of a book, with elements from fairy tales, a selfish wizard with a fondness for green slime, and one of the most wonderful voices I've ever read.

Goodreads/ My (ancient *wince*) review

CHARMED LIFE (Chrestomanci Chronicles) by Diana Wynne Jones*

Among the DWJ fans, there's a lot of disagreement about which is the best Chrestomanci book (they're all marvelous); but I'm so deeply besotted with Charmed Life that there was this weird period in my life a few years ago where I just reread Charmed Life every week for a year--I want to be in this book along with flamboyant Chrestomanci, timid Cat, and absurd Gwendolyn (yeahh, even her.)
*What is this. TWO books by the same author in the top ten? YEAH, that's right. *loves to plug DWJ books.* The world would be a sadder place without this genius authoress writing.*

by Frances Hardinge

A psychotic goose, a love for all things words, wonderful characters, and a setting reminiscent of 18th century England all combine to make this perhaps one of my most treasured reads--in my opinion, a modern children's classic.

My review/ Goodreads

by Ysabeau Wilce

The voice of the main character--funny and so very unique--is what makes this book wonderful; the off-the-beaten-road feel of the world-building that takes inspiration from 18th century Spain is a bonus.



It was hard for me deciding between the Seventh Tower Series and Sabriel*--but this is the series I've obsessively reread--love the light magic, and the plot and the premise and EVERYTHING.
*the books are so teeny I just had to put the whole series down. Plus, my favorite's the sixth and that would just be awkward, recommending you guys to read the sixth without the first, tehe.


THE MAGIC THIEF by Sarah Prineas

This book pretty much sums up everything I love about middle grade fantasy--the lovable main characters, the vaguely English setting, the magic and the irresistible VOICE.


So really myyy loooove is In the Realm of the Gods (book #4 of this series)--but start off with the first, featuring lovely King Arthurish Tortall and a girl who has a special affinity with animals.

*if you haven't read a Tamora Pierce book (Alana, at least) your life has been unfulfilled.


by Chris Wooding

Dark, chilling, set in Victorian London--this was the first steampunk-monsters novels I ever read, and I've been deeply in love with it ever since.

My Review/ Goodreads

by William Nicholson:

Again, I'm in love with the VOICE and the WORLDBUILDING and the quirky characters and the fight between good and evil and LOVE.


by Gerald Morris.

This one is a tricky one--just because the way I started reading this series was out of order, and when I finally read the first book I didn't love it as much as The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf; but there's no denying Gerald Morris is pretty much the go-to guy for funny, wonderful retellings of King Arthur mythology.


So I'll be honest and say this list is coming from the mind of a 10-year old*; many of these books were the books I grew up reading and loving and the reason I love reading at all. But I think anyone of any age can enjoy books that are well-written.

I used to only read fantasy; it' s not just these books or these series but the AUTHORS that I encourage you to check out, since some fantasy writers seem to like to write 30 books, which I don't mind, since then I have more to read.

Anyhow, I hope you'll love them too.

Thoughts on this list? Have you read any of them? ( I know some might be rather obscure books.) What would you add to this list if you could?


captivating thursday

By the time this is posted it'll be nearly friday. But it's be so long (too long) since I did a CT.

Captivating Thursday is a meme hosted by me that showcases beautiful things--whether it be photos, quotes, poetry, music, videos, or anything else that I happen upon.

Love Devendra Banhart. Not posting the official vid of Foolin' cause it's just too weird, haha.

A STEP AWAY FROM THEM by Frank O'Hara (courtesy of www.frankohara.org)

It's my lunch hour, so I go
for a walk among the hum-colored
cabs. First, down the sidewalk
where laborers feed their dirty
glistening torsos sandwiches
and Coca-Cola, with yellow helmets
on. They protect them from falling
bricks, I guess. Then onto the
avenue where skirts are flipping
above heels and blow up over
grates. The sun is hot, but the
cabs stir up the air. I look
at bargains in wristwatches. There
are cats playing in sawdust.
to Times Square, where the sign
blows smoke over my head, and higher
the waterfall pours lightly. A
Negro stands in a doorway with a
toothpick, languorously agitating.
A blonde chorus girl clicks: he
smiles and rubs his chin. Everything
suddenly honks: it is 12:40 of
a Thursday.
Neon in daylight is a
great pleasure, as Edwin Denby would
write, as are light bulbs in daylight.
I stop for a cheeseburger at JULIET'S
CORNER. Giulietta Masina, wife of
Federico Fellini, รจ bell' attrice.
And chocolate malted. A lady in
foxes on such a day puts her poodle
in a cab.
There are several Puerto
Ricans on the avenue today, which
makes it beautiful and warm. First
Bunny died, then John Latouche,
then Jackson Pollock. But is the
earth as full as life was full, of them?
And one has eaten and one walks,
past the magazines with nudes
and the posters for BULLFIGHT and
the Manhattan Storage Warehouse,
which they'll soon tear down. I
used to think they had the Armory
Show there.
A glass of papaya juice
and back to work. My heart is in my
pocket, it is Poems by Pierre Reverdy.

"Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt."
-Kurt Vonnegut

"Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat on your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby."

-Langston Hughes

"The library is inhabited by spirits that come out of the pages at night."

-Isabel Allende

I HAVE TO TELL YOU by Dorothea Grossman (courtesy of poetryfoundation.com)

I have to tell you,
there are times when
the sun strikes me
like a gong,
and I remember everything,
even your ears.


comfort books

Sometimes I just want to curl up with a good book for a whole day and let my brain turn to goo as I immerse myself in a story.

I think it's the hecticness of everyday life that allows for purely escapist books--books designed only to entertain and to let the reader just be transported to an entirely different world for a while. I mean, it's not everyday that someone can go and read War & Peace--it takes a particular frame of mind to read a classic.

On the other hand--there are those beloved, dogeared books that I can sink into at any time, and at any moment, and I'm guaranteed to enjoy myself.

Somehow, I always turn to middle grade fantasy--it's so light and carefree and there's always hope in between the pages--a happy ending--and there's just this whimsical take on life that I adore.

My ultimate comfort book is Charmed Life; my comfort author--Diana Wynne Jones. I can't tell you how many times I've read her books and just let everything sink away--it's a good distraction from worrying about homework due the next day and friends and everything in between.

Her books are like chocolate--they make you feel better and they're delicious and you're always yearning for them, even when you don't know you're yearning.

As a matter of fact, comfort books = chocolate literature.

What types are books are your comfort reads? Any particular book/author? (Not gonna lie, I need some more comfort books to dive into.)



Here's a list. Some of these books have been reviewed, some haven't been yet. I tried to keep it brief and sum up why I love these books in a sentence--just know that if you pick a single book off this list to read, you can't go wrong.

Links are to Goodreads and/or to my past reviews.

JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta:

Beautifully written, infinitely layered--this book builds momentum so that the ending has the story coming together in a truly breathtaking way.


PAPER TOWNS by John Green

This is John Green at his absolute best--and there are bursts of mystery, yearning, hilarity and quirkiness mixed in.



This is the sort of book that will make you laugh and cry at the same time--and features one of the most endearing main characters I've ever come across.

My Review/ Goodreads

WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson

One of the most lyrical YA books I've ever read--a haunting depiction of anorexia by the acclaimed author of Speak.


I AM THE MESSENGER by Markus Zusak

The coming-of-age themes in this book are particularly strong--as is the arresting writing and humor.


CRACKED UP TO BE by Courtney Summers

One of the best protragonists I've ever come across--and a whole lot of snark and wonderful dialogue to go along.

My Review/ Goodreads


Beautifully written, and heartbreaking, the poignancy of the book will stay with you long after you've read it.

My Review/ Goodreads


Reading this book will be some of the best fun you've ever had--you'll laughing hysterically and be treated to a wonderful story at the same time.

My Review/ Goodreads

IF I STAY by Gayle Foreman

A bittersweet journey narrated in a nonlinear way, If I Stay will both capture your heart and break it too.

My Review/ Goodreads

HOLD STILL by Nina LaCour

The language throughout this book is what sets it apart--gorgeous sentence fragments in tune to the halting way the main character gets over the death of a loved one.

My Review/ Goodreads

I hope you'll at least try out one of these books on this list--they're truly some of my favorite YA books.

But are any of your favorite YA contempoary books on this list? Did I miss mentioning a book that was particularly earth-shattering?


waiting on wednesday

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 governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holway 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.

(summary courtesy of Goodreads)


The first word that comes to mind--perhaps because of the Delirium title--is delicious. Yes, I think this book is going to be positively scrumptious. *

Not only is it dystopian, but it's by Lauren Oliver, who wrote that very famous book Before I Fall. Really, I'm just looking forward to this book to see if Oliver continues with the flowy writing that I can't puzzle out because it's so purposely unobtrusive. And also, the premise definitely hooked me in.

Release Date: February 1st 2011

*so maybe I'm hungry--but for good books! And psst, chocolate.


on reading the great gastby

I am currently rereading The Great Gatsby.

I'm revisiting the old haunts: Nick's bungalow in West Egg, Gatsby's lavish parties at night, Daisy's exuberance.

And then, there are the words.

Fitzgerald writes like no one else. I encountered further proof of this earlier last month when I read Tender is the Night--which, while a good book-- doesn't hold a candle to The Great Gatsby. But through all of Fitzgerald's work, there's one thing that can be expected: meticulously crafted, breathtaking prose.

Listen. I reread The Great Gatsby religiously. And it's not just because I love the glamor of the Jazz Age or the love affair between Gatsby and Daisy or the tragic ending. I read it mainly for the words.

But what do I mean, exactly?

For me at least, this book holds a sort of magnetism--which is sort of perfect, considering Gatsby's personality. It draws me in. I can't help but revisit on summer days and winter nights, luxuriating in the sentences.

It's hard to explain, unless you've read this book. And this book is relatively thin--175 pages or so, the elegaic blue cover that's lasted through the ages gracing the front. Inside though, there's enough room for genius. I'm amazed and my mind is blown every single time *and sometimes I'm speechless, and then just amazed, again. Because if you really look at Fitzgerald's prose: if you realize that the flow is incomparable to any author out there and it's as if you know what word is going to come next--this book goes from great to nothing short of titanic. It's really the rhythm of Fitzgerald's sentences-- dictating what precise but beautiful word most come right now and right here--that makes it feel like you are immersed in a beautiful dream.

I also like to think it's similar to observing a work of art. Fitzgerald is like Monet: if his words were encased in a museum, in painting form, they'd shine out with this sort of vivid, enchanting quality. They're colorful and rich. There's layers to them. Every time you look at them, there's something new to be found. Even the most elementary sentence serves some higher purpose.

I can't wrap my mind around just how very good Fitzgerald had to be to write something like this.

I set out to write this post with the intention of convincing the hordes (you guys) to read this book, if you haven't already. I haven't said much of plot: there's Nick, the removed narrator that watches as Daisy and Gatsby--to put in simple terms, have a fling. Daisy is married, of course, and rich and superficial, but she's got this flimsy prettiness--she glides through the pages, fluttering everywhere. Then there's Gatsby: hopelessly in love with Daisy, pining after her, but enigmatic and charismatic. This book is really about them, and about the excess of the 20's.

Consequently, there are a lot of parties and a lot of mansions.

I don't know what else I can say to convince anyone. Maybe that, in my opinion--Fitzgerald is the best writer of prose. Usually I hesitate to make blanket statements--how can I know, since I haven't read every author out there? It's just--I don't mean that other authors don't have better plot or characters--but Fitzgerald, the best sentences of all time? The best prose?

For my reading tastes, yes. He's my soul-author.

And here are some quotes from The Great Gatsby that will show you why:

The wind had blown off, leaving a loud, bright night, with wings beating in the trees and a persistent organ sound as the full bellows of the earth blew the frogs full of life. The silhouette of a moving cast wavered across the moonlight, and turning my head to watch it, I saw that I was not alone--fifty feet away a figure had emerged from the shadow of my neighbor's mansion and was standing with his hands in his pockets regarding the silver pepper of the stars.

There was music from my neighbor's house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars. At high tide in the afternoon I watched his guests diving from the tower of his raft, or taking the sun on the hot sand of his beach while his two motor-boats slit the waters of the Sound, drawing aquaplanes over cataracts of foam.

The exhilarating ripple of her voice was a wild tonic in the rain. I had to follo0w the sound of it for a moment, up and down, with my ear alone, before any words came through. A damp streak of hair lay like a dash of blue paint across her cheek, and her hand was wet with glistening drops as I took it to help her from the car.

Fitzegerald writes of love gone wrong and old men with owl-glasses, ash valleys with clouds of gray particles and owners of ostentatious cars. Most of all, light flutters through his story. And his words: they leave me with an impression of white dresses ghosting through jazz music, guests tipsy with bootleg gin on blueblack nights.

Please, read this book. And then please love it.


new look, old blog

So finally I've taken a step back from my compulsive layout-fiddling. It's been several days, and my blog has gone through several possible layouts. (I should've taken screenshots. I went a little nuts, and would spend a few hours configuring a layout, and then decide I hated it, and then toss it. Yeah, I'm productive like that. )

So you can understand the process. At one point I banged my head against the keyboard repeatedly. You see, I'd set the bar high. I wanted something minimalist and pretty and something that I had a significant part in designing myself.

Er, that didn't really happen. The template you see here was altered only slightly a bit--mostly colors and such. It's minimalist, but not exactly pretty. There are still some minor changes I want to make.

Through this process, though, I have learned two things:

1. Never, never install intense debate (a commenting system)on your blog if you want to have future template flexibility. I fell in love with this template:But when I installed it, unfortunately it wasn't intense-debate compatible. I (unsuccessfully) tried to build a similar looking one from scratch, but yeah, didn't work. My CSS skills aren't really existent.



2. I need to learn when to stop. Haha. Really. I wasted so much time on layouts I didn't even write posts. Heh. Heh. *wrenches self away from "Edit HTML" button*

Anyhow, love you guys for sticking around at my old little blog, even when I've been so flaky the last few months. But now it's practically the weekend, so I will soon be burrowing my nose into several books and reporting back to you on them.

Just wanted to say that this is one of the times where I wish I was either 1) Absolved of library fines 2) Insanely, filthily rich so I could get my hands on a huge stack of books. I don't know about you, but don't you just love seeing book piles around your room? It's exciting--I don't know if I'm going to fall completely in love with one of those unread books.

Rambles aside, I'm curious. What have been some of your template/layout/design frustrations?