18 random thoughts

1. I can't believe it'll soon be 2011. Time is funny. It's unregulated, you see: it goes far too fast and slow and altogether strangely to be understood.

2. Reading rehabilitation is going quite smoothly.

3. In fact, I'd like to say I'm doing quite well. Reading about two books a day for the last two weeks: Diana Wynne Jones, mostly, and I reread the whole Harry Potter series.

4. Deathly Hallows is actually quite magnificent, once you get past the whole tramping through the countryside part.

5. Christmas didn't feel like Christmas.

6. The only things on my wishlist this year were two books (Geek Love & Pale Fire), but somehow I ended up getting many things. Presents just muddle me, because suddenly I have new things, too suddenly, and I push it off to the side because I'm not sure what to do with all the new stuff.It's a bit overwhelming.

7. The walls of my cheaply-built neighborhood are too thin. I can hear my neighbor from two houses down, and he's inside. So am I.

8.I have immense respect for Neil Gaiman. He dips back and forth between children and adult books, and writes fantasy in a way that's lovely. He's a wonderful writer; even though none of his books are my favorites; it's hard to explain. I just respect his writing a lot.

9. Nearly finished with American Gods by Gaiman, you see. The storyline is in a way dense--whirling off to long-ago tales and coming back to present-day; but it's rich, like a cheesecake of a book.

10. You know how once you hear about a book or an author, you keep hearing about it everywhere? The authoress this is happening with right now is Anais Nin. I have yet to read anything by her, though. I think I might have to.

11. I've decided I loathe furniture.

12. It's funny how you can look back on things that at the time you thought were so cool and realize that now, suddenly, you don't like it at all. This has been happening to me with: photos, especially those hipster-y ones; to some extent, Jonathan Safran Foer, who is obnoxiously smug in his interviews and whose writing is actually pretty gimmicky; and especially comic sans, which I thought was okay when I was ten. However, things that I used to not like but am now warming too: egg drop soup, freckles, and the color yellow.

13. I am actually superstitious of the number 13.

14. I am quite anxious about the Hunger Games movie. I'm actually quite pessimistic about it; it occurs to me that the strength of HG is Katniss' voice and internal monologue; and that this will probably not be translated into movie form. Also, I don't even like action movies as much; and I'm horrified at the thought of some terrible Disney teen actors being cast. Basically, I'm afraid of a botched job.

15. On the other hand, I've decided that Hailee Steinfield, girl-star of that the Coen's latest film, True Grit, would be beyond awesome from the role, and that I'd actually be a bit disappointed if she wasn't cast. I mean, this girl has got the acting chops- she stole the show during True Grit.

16. It's a good thing you only apply to college once, because I don't think it's humanly possible to do it another time. I'm not even sure I can do it this time.

17. I know too much British slang, and I have no opportunity to use it.



reading rehabilitation: stage one (tales)

Lately, I haven't been reading. So I've decided to institute a reading rehabilitation program, in which I'll relive my reading life.

Today, I spent an hour or two uselessly looking for picture books and copies of Junie B. Jones or Captain Underpants, my 2nd grade favorites.

My house, in case I haven't yet mentioned, is a labyrinth of dust and dilapidated junk. Going looking for something is never a good idea.

I started with The Parent Closet.

The light broke a year or two ago, and we haven't bothered to get it repaired. Groping around in the darkness, I managed to hit my knee, elbow, and toe quite painfully against a stuffed animal, a wooden chest, and a stack of books. But I couldn't find the flaslight necessary to navigate more than a step away from the door. I decided to give up, since it was pitch dark, and we didn't yet have a hard helmet. Y'know, looking for picture books isn't exactly the way I want to head out.

So I turned to my room.

At some point last year, in a uncharacteristic fit of purpose, I organized my personal library alphabetically. By this time, basically all the picture books and early elementary favorites had disappeared, never to come back, into either the yawning abyss of my parent's closet or into the used book piles at my local library.

So I pawed over my bedroom, looking in dusty nooks and crannies. I retrieved two books: my copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales and a rather beaten up picture book called Tomie de Paola's Favorite Nursery Tales. I looked some more, screamed when I encountered a spider, retreated into the living room, and decided that I didn't want to risk my life anymore.


There it occurs to me that I did alright. These books I've found are tales that I listened to before I knew what words where, and perhaps this is chronologically first in my reading life.

But oh, Tomie de Paola has such lovely drawings. The book starts:

How am I to sing your praise,
Happy chimney-corner days,
Sitting safe in nursery nooks,

Reading picture story-books?

Among the tales, there's "Johnny Cake," "The Little Red Hen," and one of my favorites, "The Princess and the Pea," all lushly illustrated and written.

I feel happy reading these stories, only a few pages in length. And picture books are actually pretty well-written.

I smile when I get to this part in The Princess and the Pea:
"Oh terribly badly!" said the Princess. "I have scarcely shut my eyes the whole night. Heaven only knows what was in the bed, but I was lying on something hard, so that I am black and blue all over my body. It is really terrible."
& also the mantra of laziness in Little Red Hen. "Not I," "Not I," "Not I."

The thing is, you can't go back and read a childhood book without remembering the years and times you've heard these stories, and loved them, and how ingrained they are in you, to have resided in your brain for so long. It's lovely, returning to them.

When I turn to Grimm's Fairy Tales (cover at left) I find a little surprise. It's my very first book review written on the last page. A one-liner.

"Hi this is Meg it is June 8 2002 and I am eight. This is book is sorta boring sorta interesting. I have less than a week until school ends. Fridays and Saturdays our my favorite days. I like sports a lot and I am really good at them. P.S. The reason I am writing this is because I want to remember what I was like in this grade." Then I have this bit where it says J3 M2 F1 A2 D1 N1 O1 S1. and then "Meg when you see this and wonder what this means I did this when I was 8."

Pfft. Counting how many months start with each letter? I must have been bored. (Here, I suddenly remember my habit of hiding messages just like this for me to find when I was older. I have a few tucked and hidden away in my room, I recall, but I don't remember where.) But what, since when is Grimm's Fairy Tales boring? ARE YOU KIDDING ME, KIDDO? I MEAN, FREAKING CINDERELLA'S SISTERS CUT BITS OF THEIR FEET OFF, WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT IN TERMS OF CLIMAX, HUH?

Thank goodness I came to my senses. I love Grimm's Fairy Tales so much. This book is beautifully illustrated as well. It's action packed, full of talking animals and magic and princesses and princes set off to find their fortunes, and quite a lot of true love. Also, castles.*

It's full of magical sentences. Literally. And also those typical fairy tale sentences. I flip through, reading bits and pieces.

"He took up plow, harrow, horses and all, and carried them home like a bundle of straw."
"Then the wedding of the Prince and Briar Rose was celebrated with all splendor, and they lived happily till they died."
"And he marveled at her beauty, her royal garments, and the start on her forehead."
"Queen thou art of beauty rare
But Snow-White living in the glen
With seven little men
Is a thousand ties more fair."

Oh, these tales. So wondrous. Ones we all know, in some form.

I don't have time to read all 362 pages of Grimm's Fairy Tales today. I have the rather pressing matter of finals to study for. But I'll be keeping it nearby, to read during lulls in the day.

It's hard to describe the feeling I'm getting, reacquainting myself with these tales that bring up memories every time I flip a page. It's a sort of fullness, I'm feeling. This sense that, somewhere, all these stories I've read and heard are still there, ready to be summoned. And the feeling that it's just amazing to know that in each of us, there are stories, waiting to be told and heard and remembered. That we carry them with us every day, and that we're millions of stories jostling each other, full of so many words and plots that aren't ours.

This is kinda my mini-epiphany of the day.

* I have a particular interest in castles, seeing as I intend to live in one one day.**
** What? It's a totally reasonable goal. Also, I have a lot of experience with dilapidation in my current house, so I'll do better than most with mold and creaky towers.***


i'm sure you're all tired about me talking about getting my blogging-pants on, and then not actually following through, but here it goes

I feel like I've written this post several times before. It goes something like this: YOU GUYS I AM SUPER, LIKE SUPER DUPER SORRY & I WILL BLOG AGAIN SOON, AND OH YEAH EVERYTHING WILL BE LIKE IT USED TO BE.

Well, after a whole month of not posting anything, I'll be honest: I don't think I'll ever get back to those glorious months where blogging was at the forefront of my mind, where I raced home from school and switched on the computer first thing, catching up on blogs I followed and then proceeding to write my own posts. Those were the days where I spent two or more hours on the blogosphere everyday & loved every minute of it; loved talking about the books I had read that week, the newest thing in YA, what YA really is, what other bloggers were saying, what authors were saying, and arguably most importantly, what I liked about chocolate.

That just doesn't happen anymore.

But, I've realized something, something I touched upon in me, blogging. Blogging has had too much of a positive impact on my life. What I'm doing now with the time I used to spend on blogging isn't an improvement at all. I'm, in effect, wasting my time looking at things (photos, TV, blank word docs), and not creating things or thinking actively like I did with blogging. Blogging really helped me grow as a reader, a writer, and a communicator--I was forced to think analytically about each book I read, picking over the faults and merits, pinning down what I felt after reading a book, why I felt it, and what the author had accomplished. Then, when it came time to write book reviews, I had to sit down, and figure out what language and what expression would communicate just what I felt, in an at least somewhat-appealing style. My reviewing improved as the months went on. So did my sense of a "blogging voice."

At one point, I was reading 10 books a week. Not reviewing all of them, of course, but readingreadingreading every time I exhaled, every free minute of the day, cramming in words whenever I could.

Then, I began to suffocate.

Books piled up. Books I couldn't get into, especially because I felt pressured to deliver with REVIEWS ON TIME, when oh heck noes, I couldn't think about that, I had school and friends and family and activities to think about.

Then, came my dislike of the repetitiveness. I got tired of posting memes, so I mostly discontinued that. I got tired of the way I was writing reviews. I got tired of YA. I got tired of sitting down and writing posts.

And now, I'm tired of reading.

I can't even bear to say it aloud. So I'll whisper it. I don't read anymore.

Reading has defined my life. I always was a reader. I read when I was unhappy or happy. I read because I wanted a story I could dive into. First it was magic, adventure, and imagination that had me addicted. Then it was a matrix of language, soft-feather language, soft-slow smooth language, strong-song language.

My attention span has a length of about 5 seconds now. I can't keep my eyes glued to the page. I close books more often than I open then. I say, "meh," when I read or "maybe later."

I can't bear it anymore.

It's like a huge chunk of me is gone, this word-loving reader writer escapist who had a second-home in books.

I have to do something to change this.

So I'm instituting a reading-rehabilitation program. I'm starting bottom-up. Slow steps, here. I think, first will be my old picture books, Junie B. Jones, and then Roald Dahl, if I can find them. Next, Harry Potter, oh yes. Then Diana Wynne Jones, oh how I love you, Ms. Jones. A period of YA, for sure. And some literature after that.

I'm reliving my reading life. & I think I would also like to blog about that. I think. I really want to follow through with this.

If you guys are still there, I'd be honored if you listened. I was thinking that perhaps I should move my blog to a different address--I feel overwhelmed by the followers, quite honestly--but I haven't decided.

At the moment, I'm going to stay at in which a girl reads. See if I can pump a little life and a little love into this blog.

Oh, and yeah. I am no longer accepting books for review. UNLESS IF YOU ARE DIANA WYNNE JONES. IF SO I LOVE YOU AND I AM YOUR SLAVE FOREVER, OKAY?


dear sylvia

i finally got around to writing the first post in what i intend to be a series of letters to authors/ icons that i love. and i even threw in a photo i took at the bottom (i probably should have snagged something pretty from wehearit, but somehow, i felt this post should be all me.)

(p.s. imissyouguys&willtrytonavigatemywaypastthemoldofthisblogandseeifican'tlivenitupa little.)

phew, what a mouthful!



dear sylvia:

i want to tell you so many things.

yesterday, i realized i would be done reading your journals tomorrow or this week or the next. finishing is like coming to the end of a long, beautiful journey. i’ve traversed across the pages of your words and your thoughts and your frustrations and your life for a few months now.

i’m not sure though, if i’m ready to end this journey.
you see, i’ve done something with your journals that i’ve never do with books.

i’ve savored.

i read slowly, each word forming gradually in my mind. i thought about each word you penned; the way you put these words together; and i realized what you were doing. you were making sure your writings didn’t just hold a surface beauty; similes or metaphors that punctuated the page but quickly were forgotten. instead, your words were held up, strengthened, fortified-- by your sense of rhythm and the music of your language.

and that is why i took my time—am taking my time—reading your journals.

i bought your journals in a humid summer day in a bookshop thousands of miles away from my home, plucked it from shelves of slim chapbooks and fat poetry collections. i’d already treasured the bell jar; lines like:

“If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I'm neurotic as hell”
“I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart: I am, I am, I am,”
have seemed particularly lovely; have meant something to me.

i thought the bell jar was a good book, but not mind-blowing.
i’d read your poetry, and loved it, loved it to bits. everything about it: your confessional style, your evocative imagery, your uncanny ability to make me physically feel your words.
i didn’t know what to expect from your journals.
i was underestimating you, ms. plath.

right now i am thinking of my strange habit of wanting to read you in the skies. on airplanes. your words have a other-worldly, incandescent feel to them, so i guess it makes sense.

but then i realize i read you under the soft shallows of the evening light as well. the pages yellow under my fingertips and the outlines of your words underneath.

“I am beating all my wings," is one of my favorite lines.

but before i go too long without really saying anything, i wanted to thank you. i turn one page and i read a line of yours and i feel something, i feel like i’m reading greatness. i mean it. your words make me feel like there’s something undeniably beautiful in the world that i should be looking for. your sudden-surges of brilliance—these particular, melodic lines—the ones that spring out every once in a while, that take me by surprise again and again—thank you for them.

i recently read ariel. i still feel mesmerized, somewhat disoriented, from the power of your words, in such a compact form. i feel like i’ve read something life-changing.

right, now, i have four words singing in my bones. they were all that i could think of when i stared out into the river.



the madness that is NaNoWriMo

So, this is my first year trying out a little thing called NaNoWriMo. (read: the craziest month of your life up to date.) Basically. this entails beginning and finishing a 50,000 word novel within the space of November 1-30. Yeah, pure craziness.

It's only the second day and already my life has become a slave to NaNo. I don't normally think of myself of a competitive person, but right now, I can't bear the thought of losing this thing. Of hanging my head down and saying on Nov 30, "Yeah, I only got 30,000 words in." And seeing the word counts of my NaNo buddies (yeesh, one of the insane ones already hit 10k!) is making me step up my writing game, too.

Can I even begin to explain the change brought upon me by NaNo? Who needs Physics lectures when you can think about racing home and churning out 1k of your latest chapter? Who needs to eat when you can subsist on your words forming on the screen in front of you? Who needs anything in November but the insanity of NaNo? (uhh, okay, I definitely need Thanksgiving. But everything else? Socializing? Free Time? Sooooo overrated.)

Unfortunately, the thing I've noticed about myself as a writer is that if I'm writing one type of thing, I have little to no urge to write any other type of thing. It kind of goes like this:

1) do a lot of blogging, but not a lot of creative writing
2) do a lot of creative writing, but not a lot of blogging
a. Write a lot of poetry, but no prose
b. Write a lot of short stories, but no novel.
c. Write nothing but a novel.

Right now I'm right smack-dab at 2c. I think I'm going to pull out the big guns for blogging though; I have an idea for a series of posts that I'm excited about, so we'll see how that goes.

For the moment, though, I'm practically sweating out words. Pulling a plot out of thin air. Punching in words every chance I get.

It's a bit like being caught up in a tornado. A word tornado.

So, any of you participating in NaNo? Or can you, as a past participant, sympathize?
AND HEY, it's only Nov 2nd so you can still JOIN USSSS and not be too far behind!


the process of writing your personal statement

1. Not writing
2. Not writing
3. Not writing
4. Watching TV.
5. Not writing
6. Eating cheese
7. BLARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! You beat your chest in the manner of Tarzan. Grumble, grumble.
8. Break from staring at the intensity of a blank computer screen, in which you trace the route of dust particles floating in the air, and soul-search. You ponder: am I a coffee or tea kind of being?
You ask yourself: why am I incapable of writing an essay about myself?
You are stumped when faced with: What challenges have you faced? (First thing that pops into your mind: THERE'S NO CHOCOLATE IN THE HOUSE, EVER. Second thing: THIS DARN ESSAY.)
8. More not writing
9. You wonder if "eating a Harry Potter book" (well, not a whole one, and hey, you were eight and thus pardoned as a BOOK-MURDERER) is an essay-worthy topic.
10. Not-writing, again.
11. An idea slips into your mind. You feel it on the edges of your nebulous subconcious. You make a grab for this brilliant, life-saving IDEA born from INSPIRATION. IDEA leads you on, smelling of fresh cookies and strangely, pine. IDEA then escapes your desperate clutches, laughing as it runs away (with the last piece of cheese in its hand) and leaps into the more-nebulous mind of THE DOG. THE DOG looks inspired (you can tell from the angle its tongue hangs out), and immediately begins gnawing its tail off. You unfortunately, aren't. (The inspired part, not the tail part.)
12. You ask your parents: who am I? WHAT IS MY PURPOSE IN LIFE? Do you know what lies deep in my soul?
You only receive blank stares.
At least THE DOG trots over to the book shelf. (this is who you are, perhaps.)
13. For the second time that day, you ponder the meaning of your life. You have no answer for this.
14. You at last, begin to type. It is rubbish. This story and statement of YOURSELF begins with dead, alcoholic people who you've never met in your life. You begin chewing off your nails.
15. You fall asleep on the keyboard, full of confusion, with nothing accomplished. A normal day, in essay-writing land.


me, blogging

So I've been thinking. Not nearly as much as I expected I would since my last post; I'm not coming into this post with my mind made up, a clear plan, a resolution. For all intents and purposes, I'm free-writing, going with the flow, here. The no-doubt rambly concoction that comes next is my mind making itself up for me, live.

I'll be honest. I didn't feel a heart twang, didn't shed a tear, didn't feel different this last week or so when I didn't update this blog and didn't even think about posting. It felt normal; my routine as a non-blogger, normal person who doesn't spend ungodly hours on the internet interacting with other bloggers or posting. I felt the same as always going to school, eating lunch, coming home, curling into fetal position at the thought of college applications, petting my dog, watching the latest episode of Dexter, and staring at the tangled mess of the short story I'm working on.

I didn't feel a huge hole in my life. More to the point; I didn't detect a hole in my life; a place where I'd ripped out the blogger part of me and set it aside. I wasn't hurt or anyway--as far as I could tell--negatively affected by my non-blogging state.

This made me think that this could mean two things:

1) Not-blogging is my natural state. I don't currently miss it, I won't miss it later on, and I definitely won't miss that heavy feeling in my chest from all the books I have stacked up in my room, waiting to be read and reviewed, slurping up my time, when I much rather be staring at the stars and wondering who the literary equivalent of Monet is (the too-pretty extravagance of his style puts it at Nabokov, I'm thinking); and then pondering the contents of my day.

2) Blogging is something I should be doing. I've learned so much. I've grown so much because of my blog; I've met so many cool people; I've learned to express my thoughts in some semi-coherent, tangible way that makes for a hopefully enjoyable read. What would I have lost this past year in learning and enlightenment if I had never started in which a girl reads and stuck with it? What will I be losing in the future if I throw away a blog that I've put so much time into, this little niche of mine in the internet world?

And I'm thinking right now: I'm not ready to give that up just yet. The good things that come from blogging.

The only thing is--since I'm spilling my brain matter, here (really, it's unedited thoughts--> computer screen) --is that, what I would like to blog about--random shout-outs to the world, one sentence blog posts, things I've stumbled upon and found beauty in--these things, I can do. Sort of.

There's one, huge thing I wish I could do with blogging: work up the courage to talk about myself. Look, I've been reading The Journals of Sylvia Plath in bite-sized snippets for a while now; and its beautiful. I know she never meant for anyone to read it, but I can't help admire the confessional writer; those courageous people out there that can spill their deepest thoughts without inhibition to strangers out in the world. I admire those of you who can keep diaries, who'll have the reward of coming back years later and witnessing how your mind worked at a particular moment in the past. I wish I could grasp this courage, find it somewhere.

But at the moment, I feel daunted. The vast number of you who follow me makes me think twice about posting something personal; and what's more I'm not a inherently exciting person: I haven't climbed to the top of Mt. Everest, saved anyone's life, or am even mildly efficient; I'm just me, a teenager wanting-to-know-more, wanting to find beauty and connections everywhere. And I'd rather crawl into a hole than post my writing here; (this is why I take such comfort in my teeny six-followers--strong writer's blog, nestled away in a safe, dusty corner of the interwebs).

But I think I'd like to try and not hold back so much, to share & muse & ramble more on this blog. It's what I've been doing in this post, and what's more, I'm enjoying writing this.

So I guess this means that I'm not ready to stop blogging, just yet.

I've been trying to figure out what stalled in which a girl reads, though.
Sure, it's been a loss of interest. But from the very first, I constricted myself, laid out ground rules: 1) I'd rarely, if ever, post about my writing 2) Nothing too personal 3) I'd book-review, and post daily.

I think that was a bad foundation to build a blog on.

So this is me, experimenting. Seeing what will come of a blog without restrictions or expectations. I want to try again. And if it doesn't work out, I'll just find someone much more awesome than me (shouldn't be too hard, tehe) to take over in which a girl reads.

Thank you to all of you who responded to my earlier blogging-crisis post. And thanks for reading my brain-vomit for the day.
<3 choco.


the question of how to continue blogging

So, I sort of mentioned this in my latest post: I'm not sure if/how I'll continue to blog.
These last few months or so--after promising myself that I'd kick this blog into shipshape after a few hiatuses due to testing and vacation--haven't been going how I'd planned, blog-wise.

I've gone from checking my dashboard everyday, reading and commenting on hundreds of blogs, posting nearly every day--to not checking my dashboard often, not commenting, and rarely posting.

The question is--why?

Sure, I'm busy sometimes and I can't possibly blog when I get home at 10:00 P.M. from two extracurricular activities in a row and night classes and still have homework to finish. But that's not everyday--there are days when I could, if I really wanted to, squeeze blogging into my schedule (instead of writing or talking to my family). Those were sacrifices I was willing to make before--but not as much now.

The reason?

I've changed. (Not to be dramatic or anything). But I have. A year ago all I wanted to do was spend my life in Barnes and Noble reading one middle grade book after another. Today? All I want to do is pore over a few of my favorite books and deconstruct their sentences and figure out how the words fit together, and then try and write my own stories.

I mean, I've always had these interests, but they're starting to manifest more in what I read and why I read and how often I read. I'm not reading much, if any YA anymore--I've turned to obsessing over a few of (the same) literary books and trying to figure out how they work; flipping over the same few books and reading a few passages at random; reading poetry--in the time allotment usually reserved for reading YA.

This doesn't exactly make for prime posting material.

My life is becoming less and less full of reading YA books, and more and more full of studying novels, writing things, and watching TV and movies (as my passion for film grows). Right now, I'd rather post pretty photos or a poem or talk about the art museum I visited and what I ate for lunch and what I found laughter in today, than a book review everyday. Right now, I'd rather study prose than read things for plot.

Basically, my interests have shifted, and it's had the affect of me not having a desire to post what I used to post or make time to blog about something I'm not reading or currently as interested in.

That's not to say that next month I won't suddenly find myself itching to review YA books everyday. Who knows what will happen? That's why I'm hesitant to right away"put the blog up for sale" (i.e. set about trying to find a person who I feel confident handing the blog over to); or to say, "Hey, this is now an anime blog GET OUT YOU YA people!" (for the record, this is not my plan for the blog, haha.)

Anyhow, I'm sort of doing some major blog-reflecting right now. For the moment, I'll hold of posting (though I feel terribly, terribly guilty about the review copies and ARCs I've been sent and haven't reviewed yet; I will either review them eventually or send them to another blogger!). I'll be thinking and deciding what I really want to do with this blog, or if maybe blogging isn't right for me at this particular point in my life.

And I'll get back to you guys on this. I promise.

Have any of you gone through a similar thing with blogging? What did you do?


some very rambly bookish musings

After a round of watching TV, and as I was eating some stir-fry today, I thought about something rather interesting*. First, about how each reader takes away something different from a book. And secondly, how an author doesn't describe everything. This is very different than in, for example, the TV show that I was watching**-- where the setting and characters are already there, in detail, and character motivations fall by the wayside in favor of watching character's actions unfold on the screen. Watching a movie, the audience has most things already manufactured by the creator; but an author, in writing, has to leave a certain leeway, at least in the description area.

In books, readers create their own experience. Reading one book: say, Harry Potter*** is a unique experience, just because each reader fills in the gaps left by the author in a different way. For instance, I have a habit of imagining rooms where the action is taking place--perhaps stone-walled and with a fireplace, if we're sticking with the HP scenario--but the underlying material I use to shape this imaginary world is rooted in reality: the room I've imagined that HP lives in has the exact same layout as my parent's bedroom, except the decoration is of course different.****; the meadow I imagine Bella to have stopped in is oddly similar in shape--but not details--to a meadow I remember from my childhood; and Chrestomanci's castle looks a bit like a castle I'd seen in a movie.

This combination in my reading imagination-- of both something extremely foreign but at the same time familiar-- is absolutely fascinating to me. And thinking of all the imagining I've done for past books, I realize a lot of the formatting is recycled. I have the same template for numerous rooms--the same layout, just different interiors--that I use a lot for books I've read. Quite a few characters live in the same house as I do, quite a few played sports in a similar gym to my high school gym, etc. A lot of it is based unconsciously on my experiences: the same field, the same car, the same driveway, the same teapot--they all materialize, with different details, depending on the book--but they appear repeatedly through everything I read, as a sort of continuing pattern or mold.

Of course, there's some settings that I've envisioned that are entirely new, and that I have no idea where they came from. It's actually quite fascinating to re-envision them without the confines of a book's specifications. Are these places from your imagination as a reader, not the author's? Do you own these imaginings? Especially if the author had just described "a house overlooking a lake"--and your response had been to imagine a clear lake at the foot of the mountains with weeds growing at the sides and a house with Spanish architecture.

If you own these imaginings, not the author, does this mean the process of reading is just tapping into your own personal repository of imaginings? What then, makes someone drawn to books?

For me, I've noticed many of my favorite books are mostly the ones--especially in fantasy--where I had the fullest imagining of the setting. Where the details I'd conjured up, in addition to those provided by the author--contributed to the most real and solid world. I suspect the reason it felt so real and solid was the fact that many of the details from my real and solid world had been transposed into this literary version.

It puzzles me that so many millions of people can be deeply in love with a book, despite the fact that their experience and details they impose upon the book must vary widely. I'm sure different readers envision things differently; perhaps entirely different than I do. I'm always imagining the setting with as much detail as I can manage--not the character's physique though. Characters in a book are sort of shadowy to me: I can't get a firm grasp of what their faces look like. But I don't really care--their personality is more important to me.

However, for some readers, maybe this is what they focus on: the physical appearance of the characters, while the setting just sort of melts away. Or perhaps they don't envision much details at all.

I think the only time you get a true glimpse of someone else's vision of a book is when you watch the movie adaptation: the director certainly had a different impression than you did, although many of the major features remain intact. I think it'd be absolutely fascinating to have, say, 100 people who have read the same book, draw a particular setting in the book--perhaps a room, or a building. And then see how it matches up.

When it comes to the gaps an author leaves, do we envision such entirely different things that it's shocking that we love a book for the same reason? Is it all rather similar? Does the fact that I, at least, use some of the details of my real world to flesh out the imaginary--contribute to the connection I feel with books? Is that the beautiful dichotomy of reading---that we are at once able to immerse ourselves in the imaginary, and the unknown, while comfortably imposing our own world into an impossible one?

Okay those are my closing thoughts, I promise. Sorry for the very indulgent mega humongous-ramble. I had these thoughts during dinner and I decided I had to write them down. (And P.S.: sorry for being such a fail of a blogger, disappearing all the time. I'm currently working out how I'll continue blogging. )

*at least to me, hahaha. This is a very self-indulgent post.
*** first time around I wrote it "Happy Potter." hehehehe.
****Oh god, that'd be so cool to have a HP themed bedroom!


a late waiting on wednesday

This week's pick: Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers

n Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. He seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on… but some questions should be left unanswered.


First: the cover is lovely
Third: Courtney Summers <33333333
Fourth: Ooh, photography.
Fifth: I SMELL A MURDERER IN CULLER EVANS. (okays, maybe I'm jumping to conclusions here. okay, I'm definitely jumping to conclusions. He's probably just the sweet love interest, sigh.)
Sixth: Who's as excited as meeeeeee?

To bad we have to wait until December 21, 2010


on reading the edible woman

I don't know if I mentioned it before or if it's readily apparent from all the CT posts, but I'm a huge Margaret Atwood fangirl. I started off with reading some of her novels a few years ago, but she's also the first author that incited in me a love of poetry.

She's definitely up high on the list for "authors I love and who have changed my reading perspective." Maybe even #1.

I picked up The Edible Woman at a bookstore this summer. I began reading it--casting aside the other bazillion books I'd splurged on--right away. I remember the way I sat on my bed and sank into this beautiful book.

The Edible Woman--as Atwood's debut, written in the 70s--had a different flavor than the other Atwood books I'd read, like The Handmaid's Tale or The Blind Assassin. There was something inherently different about this book . Something about Atwood's earlier writing style--still assured, yes. Still recognizably Atwood. But somehow less processed.

The Edible Woman tells the story of Marian, a 60's girl with a college diploma who works at job should care less for. She values her independence. Her voice is crisp; her pragmatical nature indisputable. She becomes engaged to Peter: her indisputably practical boyfriend. Things dissolve from there.

There was something of the surreal in this book. Marian gets engaged; things change. Some sort of roadblock forms in her mind as her life as a housewife, married to Peter, solidifies. She can't eat meat anymore. She can't eat much anymore. At one point, she hides under a bed. Her world is shattering; one night, she takes off racing down the streets for no reason at all.

Oh, how I love my crazy main characters.

The surrealism continues: her strange attraction to a graduate student, Duncan, who's frail and a bit like a helpless little boy. Her roommate's, Ainsley, hilarious antics, after a sudden and determined decision to get pregnant, just because. The frailty of her old college friend, Clara, who's weighed down by four squealing kids and who, to Marian, seems little more than someone who gives birth to kids.

There is something otherworldly about the prose and the writing.

Something that still puzzles me: the switch from first person to third person a bit into the book. I guess it could be representative of the way Marian's voice is removed, detached, as she advances further into an stifling engagement she doesn't truly want.

Really, I don't know.

Something I do know: this book is beautiful. It's non-preachy feminism. It's lovely prose-- I think, even though Atwood was so young when she wrote this book (only 24)-- it's as beautiful if not as beautiful as her later books. It's a character study, a relationship study. There's something ethereal to it, almost, as it examines all sorts of different women portrayed in this book. There's something symbolic behind everything, if you'd care to decipher it.

I loved the minor characters a little more than somewhat distant Marian, to tell the truth. Red-headed and eccentric Ainsley, who just wants to use men to further her own ends--she's quite funny. And melancholy Duncan: he seems so real to me that I wouldn't be surprised to see an emaciated figure walking down my street right now. I think he's one of my favorite characters in literature, of all time.

And there is something extraordinary about the minutiae elements in this book: the every day interactions elevated into something truly remarkable. The mundane suddenly something absolutely fascinating. It's like magical realism, but not quite.

Basically, this book just made me love Atwood even more, if that's even possible. And it says a lot that I chose to ramble about The Edible Woman over old favorites such as The Handmaid's Tale or The Blind Assassin. It's my favorite Atwood book.

Some quotes:

"So I'm finally going mad," she thought, "like everybody else. What a nuisance. Though I suppose it will be a change."

"Not liking other people's babies," said Ainsley, "isn't the same as not liking your own."
"After a while I noticed that a large drop of something wet had materialized on the table. I poked it with my finger and smudged it around a little before I realized with horror that it was a tear."

I think this is Atwood at her finest. Really, I'd wear a t-shirt around everywhere with "READ SOME ATWOOD" on the front if I could. Hopefully you'll get a chance to sometime--sooner rather than later :)


just gotta say I can't stand this

I might being stepping on some of your toes here, but I really can't stand a particular kind of review that I keep seeing on goodreads or amazon or whathaveyou review site.

The kind of review where the reviewer completely disregards the merits of a book and the actual craft of the book--things like writing quality, characters, voice, plot, setting. Where the actual quality of the book isn't even mentioned, and instead the whole review is a rant about how [insert drugs, cussing, sex here] is inappropriate for a YA book or for YA readers.

It's totally and completely fine if you didn't like those elements in a book.

But it's the fact that a 1-star rating is given not based on merit, but a reviewer's stance on morality that drives me crazy. It's just not being fair to the author or the book. It's not fair at all.

Look, I have no issue with readers not liking/ getting offended by/ not enjoying cussing teenage characters or drug use or promiscuity in YA books. That's a decision that each person makes individually as a reader, and it's a matter of what someone personally does or doesn't like reading in a book. That's not what I'm bothered by.

However, I do get pretty antsy when I see a perfectly good book--in terms of writing or characterization or craft--given 1-star reviews solely because of the more "edgy" elements.

Maybe it's the fault of Amazon and Goodreads, since they don't have an option other than the 5-stars where reviewers can rate or explain that they didn't like the content. But as it stands, the preponderance of 1-star reviews given based off or a book's morality instead of actual quality devalues the integrity of a 5-star rating scale. 1s should be reserved for books that are completely terrible craft-wise and that would better serve as fire fuel because they're so bad. 1s shouldn't be reserved for otherwise good books that have content that discomfort some--but not all--readers.

But until the reviewing system is changed (which I don't see happening soon), I'd really like to see more balanced reviews. Okay, so you're all fired up about how the main character dropped f-bombs every other word. And you definitely didn't like that she was a cocaine addict. That's fine.

But what did you actually think about the writing? The plot? The craft that went behind this book? The character development and her relationships with other characters as she deals with the consequences of being a cussing cocaine addict?

In my opinion, those are crucial things that should be covered in a review before branching out to a personal dislike of a character's moral choices. Those are the things that should be factored in to how a book is rated. Those are the elements--when mentioned in a review--that will actually help people decide if a book is worth reading or not.

Are you bothered when 1-star reviews are given solely because of "edgy" content? Do you think giving books 1-stars/ 2-stars because of content is fair or even a good way of rating books?


review: the duff


Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

My Opinion:

Enter Bianca: a fierce girl who's feels she's the Duff (Designated Fat Ugly Friend). Enter Wesley: the gorgeous player that has no heart or soul.
Then sit back as these two battle (and love) it out, and you've got the resulting concoction of punchy, real, and engrossing that is The Duff.

Bianca is definitely a memorable main character: she jumps out at the pages from the first, spouting clever insults and her worries about family problems. But I like my snarky main characters. I like them quite a lot. I can understand why the constant cynicism and aggression that characterizes Bianca might rub some readers the wrong way--but that's the same reaction a sarcastic seventeen-year-old would get in real life, and it only seems fitting that she'd get the same reaction out of readers. One thing's for sure: some people will love Bianca, and some people will hate her.

I mostly loved her.

One thing I can say about this book? It's a breath of fresh air. Bianca is perfectly imperfect: she's not stunningly beautiful or scarily skinny, and she's definitely not yet another recycled teenage main character that populate so many YA books today. She feels real, and her witty observations are just the sort of thing I'd like to see more in YA: her assertion that in high school, teenagers shouldn't be "in love" but rather "in like"; her ability to have a crush on someone nerdy and nice rather than a chiseled marble statue; and her doubts about her relationship with Wesley.

It's the characters and the relationships that are the backbone of this book; and Keplinger succeeds in bringing to life a whole cast that has strikingly realistic interactions with each other. Cynical Bianca has two friends that aren't flimsy stock characters; Wesley--although definitely not a love interest I'd swoon over--has depth behind his playboy exterior; a sister he cares for, and a rather touching concern for Bianca--even as he plays his part as a womanizer. It's the teens that I feel came to life and took over this story--as it should be in YA. Bianca's relationship with her Dad and Mom is shaky; but I felt that the conflict between them could've stood to have been explored at a deeper level rather than a toss-up conflict that adds reasoning to Bianca's lusty interactions with Wesley. And I'd promised I'd start doing this more often, so for those of you who are deeply offended by cursing or sex in a book, steer clear of The Duff. Personally, I'm not bothered by it, and felt that it did create a further dimension of realness to The Duff--even if Bianca made some rather stupid decisions. The point is, she learned from it. The other point is that these are real teenagers you're reading about, not just what adults think teenagers are like.

And that's why I felt that this book had so much value.

There are some things that I wish could've been a little different: there was a slight shift in writing style after the first few chapters that should've been ironed out by the time of publication, and also, the ending just didn't quite do it for me. It came together too nicely and too easily; with the blink of an eye, Bianca's problems were resolved. The ending was not in line with the rest of the ambiance of the book; nor was Bianca's final attitude towards Wesley. Things were too neat, and far too pretty for a book and main character that aren't afraid to deal with the ugly side of things.

However, I will say that I really appreciated the self-esteem issues explored in this book: I'm sure just about every girl and possibly boy has felt like The Duff at one point. And I did love the chemistry between Bianca and Wesley; it kept me reading, just to see what insult she'd throw at him next.

Overall, The Duff was a very strong debut by an author I'm eager to read more from in the future. I'm really grateful as a reader that Keplinger was able to take a step back from the cliches and often untrue descriptions of high school that are so pervasive throughout YA; and to deliver a setting that rings true to me as a teenager.

The Duff is snarky and punchy and just what teen readers need from contemporary YA--a new voice that's got some gumption to it, and most of all, a whole lot of realism.

My Rating: 8/10. Pretty good read overall, pick it up if you have a chance. Oh, and I LOVE the cover. For once, there's a girl on the cover that stays true to what I'd expect her to look like based off of descriptions--there isn't any of that annoying skinny-fying and glamorizing (she has freckles!) done here. I'm doing my happy-dance for covers right now. :)

FTC Disclosure: I received the ARC for review from the publisher


falling out of love with books

Something rather crushing happened yesterday, when I went to dig through my bookshelves for this novel I used to love when I was in sixth grade. I started reading it. It was okay, but not wonderful like I remembered it to be.

I mostly noticed how I didn't care for the voice, or the way author described things, or the dialogue. I used to love every inch of that book and reread it obsessively, but yesterday I realized it was just kinda not that great.

I'd fallen out of love with a book.

Now, I still love plenty of books I loved in sixth grade. But some books I was sure I'd love forever--well, they're not that loved anymore.

And I think it's because I review books.

Before, if I didn't like a book, it was only a vague, unsettled feeling in the pit of my stomach after I read a book and decided I'd wasted my time and then decided I'd never read it again. But I didn't put this dislike of a book into words or even think much about why I disliked a book until I began book reviewing.

Now, it's hard for me to put my critical mind aside when I'm reading. The flaws in a book stand out.

And I think that's why--not just because I'm older and different--I can fall out of love with a book.

And I wonder if that's really a good thing. I mean, I can have comfort in the fact that there's a reason I love or hate a book, but it's not as comforting to know that I can't just pick up any book I want and have an enjoyable time reading it, or even expect that my reading favorites will still be the same books a year from now.

Why do you think you fall out of love with books? Is it just time passing? Different tastes? Or did you suddenly become aware of flaws you hadn't noticed before?


teen writer interview: emilia plater

Teen writer interviews are a feature on my blog, where I invite some very talented teens who are seriously pursuing publication over for a spotlight.


Emilia Plater

Age: 17 (Life is going by so fast! AHH)

Blog: Punk Writer Kid

Twitter: @emiliaplater

Represented By: Suzie Townsend of FinePrint Literary Management


Food: Chinese

Song: Hey by The Pixies

Weather: 75 degrees and sunny. I'm on the wrong coastline!

Movie: Catch Me If You Can

Write the autobiography of your life in a sentence, using at least three of these words: watermelon, tusks, sibilant, boots, reindeer, finagle, crusty, scuba, watershed, turban.

Once, a girl with the ability to eat a whole watermelon in one sitting put on some boots and scuba'd this world with her TUSKS. Metaphorically.

(faux cover below)

Query/ Summary for Autochromatic:

I'm awful at short s ummaries, so y'all get the Big Query Kahuna. Much apologies! Here we go...

Ask seventeen-year-old Riley Tanner how she's dealing with the death of her boyfriend, Adrian, and she'll respond with an eye-roll and a "fantastically." Truth is, the car crash wrecked her world, and Riley has pretty much accepted her fate as a screwed-up therapy case. But when she starts getting texts from Adrian's phone number, each containing a different address, her plan to spend the summer not thinking about him falls apart.

Desperate to track down the sender - mostly so she can punch that creep in the face - Riley sets off on a follow-the-texts road trip with her best friend. From New York City to the Wild West, she meets people from Adrian's past who she didn't know existed. Their stories of betrayal, alcoholism, and messed-up family dramas paint a not-so-pretty picture of the guy she thought she loved. Great.

With her beliefs caught in a crapstorm, Riley recognizes the real source of her frustration: Adrian's mistakes. But there's nothing in the Angsty Teen manual about conflict resolution with dead people, and things only get worse when her best friend heads home after a fight. Stranded on the wrong side of the country, Riley has to make a choice: give up healing for good, or ask for help from the one person who refuses to show their face...

IWAGR: Wow. I'd seriously buy this book in a heartbeat if I saw it at the bookstore.

Can you share a favorite scene or a few excerpts from Autochromatic?

My favorite scene is a little too spoilery (I'm a sucker for Climactic Breakdowns), but here are a few of my fave bits! They characterize Riley well, muah hah.

Screw twinkling lights. I prefer the city in the morning. The real people come out now -- the suits on their way to work, the hardcore drunks on their way home, the crazy muscular runners. Sunlight bleeds into the sidewalk cracks and ramps up the contrast of the colors, plastic colors, trash colors. This is the real city, awake again after a chaotic Saturday night, collective hangover chiseling everything to an edge. That’s not printed on the stupid posters in Times Square.

Watch me. No way. This room flashes to mine, zooms in on my bed, where sheets snarl around my ankles. People are studying me, Riley Tanner, age seventeen, boyfriend died in a car crash, isn’t that sad? They’re wondering, whispering as gunfire pain sears at my middle, cutting my organs, warping my spine. All day , all night, no medicine works and two words writhe in my ear. Suicide watch.

That camping trip was great. Adrian and I were allowed to have our own tent, and we almost had sex in it after a day of rock-climbing, but then my dad started making bear noises ten feet away and we co llapsed into laughter.
IWAGR: Those are really awesome! LOVE.

What was it like landing an agent?

Oh my gosh, it was amazing and exciting and insane! It's been a month, and I still don't think it's sunk in. I'm probably going to be sitting in school someday soon when I randomly start having a freak attack because it's finally hit me. This is happening. Huh?

What does your book sound like? (Describe it as if it were a song.)

I hear guitar, power electric guitar, with a dash of piano melody for the the more touchy-feely moments. A great drum beat. Lots of annoying cymbal crashing during the chorus. And for some reason, a trumpet. Veery interesting.

INWAGR: Interesting indeed!

What inspired you to begin writing in the first place? When did you get serious about it? And what keeps you sticking with it?

In the beginning, my "inspiration" was a little twisted: I wanted to write a book for the sake of being that cool kid who writes a book. Looking back, I think emo 15-year-old me was searching for something - a jumpstart, a break in the monotony, a reason for being, whatever you want to call it. It just so happens that the week I started writing AC, something shifted, and suddenly it hit me that I had, as an emo 15-year-old, stumbled upon my freakin' calling. Whoaman!

Despite all that, I didn't know if I'd be able to stick with it. But it's been a year and a half since then, and whether it's the words, or the people, or the addictive highs, or something else altogether, I'm still here. Honestly, I couldn't feel more blessed.

Can you describe your writing style?

Whine, procrastinate, write two sentences, check Facebook, eat, write. No, just kidding... sort of, hee! Above all, I try to keep it real, no holds barred. In AC, Riley's gritty, tell-all voice really helps me do that. But overall, the visceral reaction is something I'm always hunting for. It may take a few rounds of hammering, but once that cool turn of phrase shows itself, or that breakdown hits just the right note, I've done my job.

Looking at my excerpts, apparently I'm a lover of run-on sentences. I promise they're only a slight problem!

What’s your ultimate writing dream and where do you see yourself in ten years time writing-wise?

In ten years, I hope to be writing novels for a living, or at least part of a living. Earth-shattering, I know - I just hope they're good!

When it comes to an ultimate writing dream, right now I feel like seeing my writing on the pages of a real-live book would be the most amazing thing in the world. But I'm also a big believer in the idea that under every desire lies another one waiting to break free. So maybe one day I'll dream of nothing less than penning an NYT bestseller - or, more likely, of simply being someone with the power to shake things up and make people think a little differently. Whatever happens will happen - and I can't wait to go along for the ride!

What is your favorite hobby other than writing?

Would you believe me if I told you I'm a professional whale trainer? No? Yeah, I wouldn't either. Hmm... Well, there's reading, and creepily drawing portraits of my friends when they're not looking. OH! My dream is to travel like crazy, and I've already been to a few pretty sweet places. Yes, I choose traveling. Which is funny, because my parents are always bugging me to get out of my room. Oh, moms and dads.


What’s the most important thing in your writing? (A gripping plot? Humor? Beautiful descriptions? Great dialogue? Great voice? Awesome characters?) What do you strive to perfect?

Dude, reading that list of qualities made me drool! I really try my best to achieve them all, since the whole package is always ideal. But I'll be the first to admit that voice is what hooks me the most in YA, and it's one of my favorite things to develop. I've found that once you've got the main character's essence down, suddenly the humor's there too, closely followed by the descriptions, and the snappy dialogue... Riley comprises the core of AC, and from her has sprung plot changes, characters I want her to clash with, everything. I owe her a lot!

Even though in my head, Riley is pretty much a real-live person, I've had to work a lot on perfecting those minor characters, particularly their motivations. Having a whole cast of real characters is truly what makes a story memorable - any LOST fan will tell you that. Then you get to finish the book and think... "Wait, where do I find these people?"

What’s a word you absolutely hate? One that you absolutely love?

For some reason, the word 'lips' has always freaked me out. I sort of have to use it though, because my characters are always smiling like idiots (it's a problem), and you can only use 'mouth' and 'smile' so many times. I absolutely love the word 'gambol.' Which sucks, because if I made any of my characters do it, they'd kill me. I'll have to stick them in a meadow of happy flowers sometime and see what they do THEN.

If you ever made it on to the front page of a newspaper, what would it be for?

I swear I'm not lying - my immediate answer was "for burning something down." I mean, ideally, it'd be for setting up a kitten orphanage, or for a record-breaking book release, but... yeah. I suck at cooking.

Invent a writing or reading related superpower.

The power to stop time. Unrelated! you exclaim accusingly. But oh, it is so related. Can you imagine being able to stop time for a little in the middle of crazy-busy day, sit down, and read a cool book or write a chapter or two before returning to the grind? Hells yeah. And the possibilities for pranks are endless, but that actually isn't writing related, so I'll keep 'em to myself. (One word: whales.)

And lastly, the MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION OF YOUR LIFE: In a top-secret experiment (that is probably very unethical and illegal) SCIENTISTS HAVE ENGINEERED A BREED OF OH-SO-CUTE kittens that can *gasp* read. Desperate to make sure these kittens get the reading education they need, you ninja five of your favorite books into the laboratory. What are they and why let the kitties read them?

OMG! Okay. Okay. No pressure. Just molding the minds of adorable kittens that will inevitably rule the world with their cuteness. Let's see... I'd want to make sure they don't feel weird, being able to read and all, so I'd use The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie to teach them the importance of being yourself. Then, I'd want them to be prepared for the possibility of a zombie outbreak when they rule the world, so stick in World War Z by Max Brooks.

After that, it's time for some lessons about love and hate and women's issues: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers and The Bell Jar by Slyvia Plath (don't get too depressed, kitties!). And finally, the eternal Harry Potter series (it counts as one), because no living creature should ever have to endure an existence without magic. Yay!

IWAGR: Aww man, those are all awesome books--I freaking love Alexie and Rowling and Plath and Rowling. Those kitties are gonna have lots of fun reading them :p


Thank you Emilia for letting me interview you! Who else thinks this girl is made of awesome?

Don't forget to check out her (also) awesome blog over at Punk Writer Kid.


waiting on wednesday: so shelly

Until now, high school junior, John Keats, has only tiptoed near the edges of the vortex that is schoolmate and literary prodigy, Gordon Byron. That is, until their mutual friend, Shelly, drowns in a sailing accident.

After stealing Shelly's ashes from her wake at Trinity Catholic High School, the boys set a course for the small Lake Erie island where Shelly's body had washed ashore and to where she wished to be returned. It would be one last "so Shelly" romantic quest. At least that's what they think. As they navigate around the obstacles and resist temptations during their odyssey, Keats and Gordon glue together the shattered pieces of Shelly's and their own pasts while attempting to make sense of her tragic and premature end.


I love the cleverness of how all the main characters mentioned are named after a poets.

And my gawd, I already love this book. I stated googling Percy Shelley out of pure curiosity, and got sucked into reading up about him.

From wikipedia:

On 8 July 1822, less than a month before his 30th birthday, Shelley drowned in a sudden storm while sailing back from Livorno to Lerici in his schooner, Don Juan.

So I'm guessing book is at least loosely based on Shelley-Byron-Keat's real lives.


Mostly because:
1. I love poetry
2. This book seems like a modern, fictionalized version of the poet's lives.
3. It seems like a fresh idea in YA. And it's already exudes cleverness from just a short blurb--I looove clever things.

At first I thought this book might be cool, but the more I read up on it, the more excited I'm getting XD

To be published February 8th 2011


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?