About Me

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I'm immortally interested in cultural/literary deconstructions, feminism, anti-racism, South Korea, Supernatural, Sherlock Holmes, Hayao Miyazaki, Diana Wynne Jones, food (including but not limited to maple butter, tomatoes, and toast), fairy tales, parentheses, paper airplanes, films and books.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Music's the Medicine of the Mind

I've been busy editing, revising and creating so I haven't had time all week to update my blog which definitely is bad on my part. In any case, we'll have this be "Song Sunday" for just today.


This week, I'll be listing the top instrumental songs I love off the top of my head. (I say instrumental because some of the songs I'm going to include probably won't be traditional classical music.)

1. Opening - Merry-go-round of Life by Joe Hisaishi


I don't know what it is about this song that just rips me a new one each time I listen to it. I think that maybe it's the nostalgia of childhood. I don't remember Spirited Away's soundtrack as much as I do Howl's Moving Castle, which is strange because it has only been five years since I watched it. Oh, nostalgia, how you befuddle me.

2. Star Locket - Various Artists



I've spent the past ten minutes trying to find who was responsible for creating this incredible thirty second masterpiece. I have come up short and I feel terrible for it.

3. Waltz No. 3 in A minor, Op. 34, No. 2 by Chopin


I used to be able to play this. Unfortunately as my keyboard spent years of neglect in the corner, so did my piano skills. I can do the first few bars with my right hand but that's about it. I do regret it, though. The only thing I can play now is Joy to The World and St. Nicolas is Coming To Town, which is great for entertaining drunk and annoying guests at Christmas. Even as a child, I've always preferred Chopin and Satie, to Mozart and Beethoven. (Not that they're not incredible, I just liked Chopin and Satie's tones a lot more.)

4. Arpeggione Sonata D821 (Pt. 1) composed by Frank Schubert, played by Emanuel Ax and Yo-Yo Ma


Ever since I watched the trailer of 49 Days, I was in love with the show and this song. What is so great about it? The fact that it is 8 minutes long, which means I don't have to get up from my bed and put it on repeat every two minutes like most of my favorite songs. A big plus is the cello. The cello is my favorite instrument, piano included. There's just something so soulful and plaintiveness about it.

5. Maybe - Yiruma


Hands up if you liked Yiruma before all this Twilight nonsense. (Of course I might have discovered him because of my fascination with South Korean culture but you know, he's still just freaking brilliant.) I couldn't pick a favorite so I just went with my favorite live performance.

6. Gnossienne No. 1 - Erik Satie


As stated above, I prefer Satie, but maybe I should rephrase that so it encompasses my all-exclusive love for him. Under great restraint, I did not list my top ten favorite songs by him alone.

7. Ode to Simplicity - Secret Garden


I remember when I discovered this band, I went on a binge with their music for days. Literally days straight without listening or doing anything else. This has to be one of the saddest songs on the album and it is also the thirteenth song off of it which is just awesome. (I'm superstitious but in that weird way that thinks everything that brings bad luck actually brings good luck.)


That's all for today folks!

Monday, May 23, 2011

In My Mailbox #3

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristy at The Story Siren. Every Sunday (or whichever day of your choosing), bloggers post up books they've received in the past week.


I am so bad at keeping up with book readings. Case in point, I received Liar weeks ago and yet just finished the other day. I apologize if my reviews are ridiculously sporadic.


FOR REVIEW
Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud
Halli Sveinsson has grown up in the House of Svein, listening to the legends of the heroes as all his forefathers did. His is a peaceful society where the violence of the past has been outlawed and disputes are settled by the Council.
But young Halli has never quite seemed to fit in with the others. For starters, he was not at all handsome or tall, like his attractive blond siblings. He's stumpy and swarthy, with a quick mind and aptitude for getting in trouble. Bored with the everyday chores and sheep herding, he can't help himself from playing practical jokes on everyone, from Eyjolf the old servant, to his brother and sister. But when he plays a trick on Ragnor of the House of Hakonsson, he goes too far, setting in motion a chain of events that will forever alter his destiny. Because of it, Halli will have to leave home and go on a hero's quest. Along the way, he will encounter highway robbers, terrifying monsters, and a girl who may finally be his match. In the end, he will discover the truth about the legends, his family, and himself.
Jonathan Stroud's new novel is a hero's saga and coming-of-age--as well as a surprising look at what bravery really means.

I loved Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus Trilogy with a passion, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he does with this.


Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes
Wednesday, September 5, 1973: The first day of Karl Shoemaker’s senior year in stifling Lightsburg, Ohio. For years, Karl’s been part of what he calls “the Madman Underground”—a group of kids forced (for no apparent reason) to attend group therapy during school hours. Karl has decided that senior year is going to be different. He is going to get out of the Madman Underground for good. He is going to act—and be—Normal. But Normal, of course, is relative. Karl has five after-school jobs, one dead father, one seriously unhinged drunk mother . . . and a huge attitude. Welcome to a gritty, uncensored rollercoaster ride, narrated by the singular Karl Shoemaker.
I heard good things about it. But that's pretty much it.




WON
White Cat by Holly Black

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.


Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.
Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love — or death — and your dreams might be more real than your memories.



Red Glove by Holly Black
Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe's world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else.

That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she's human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila's been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila's love is as phony as Cassel's made-up memories, then he can't believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel's oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can't trust anyone—least of all, himself?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

I was glad I won books; I love acquiring books period and I'll definitely read this series again. The only problem is now that I have the first two, I'll be forced into buying the third. I get an itch when I don't finish building a trilogy or a series of seven books. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Liar, Liar

Micah will freely admit that she's a compulsive liar, but that may be the one honest thing she'll ever tell you. Over the years she's duped her classmates, her teachers, and even her parents, and she's always managed to stay one step ahead of her lies. That is, until her boyfriend dies under brutal circumstances and her dishonesty begins to catch up with her. But is it possible to tell the truth when lying comes as naturally as breathing?

Taking readers deep into the psyche of a young woman who will say just about anything to convince them, and herself, that she's finally come clean, Liar is a bone-chilling thriller that will have readers see-sawing between truths and lies right up to the end. Honestly


Wow.

I love reading unconventional books but wow. Liar blew my expectations out of the water. That said, the one twist that had everyone talking, I saw coming a mile away, but the hallmark of a good writer is being able to turn that twist around and make it interesting despite the fact that it was obvious.

I think what made this book so good was its unorthodox storytelling. Larbalestier talked about using Scrivener in her Author's Acknowledgement, and that without it, the book might not have existed. I can understand that; I use Scrivener myself and it must have eased the writing process for this book so much. And if Scrivener helped Larbalestier, I'm sure that it'll help some other writers out there, looking for some unconventional methods to storytelling.

I'm not sure if I can really talk about this without spoiling the hell out of it. The only thing that I can say is that it is definitely a book that defines the best of its genre. Now nothing I can read about ________ will be able to come up to this. (Even though the existence of the matter is still subjective in itself.) Which sucks, really. I guess that means I'm confined to re-read Liar over and over again, although that doesn't seem like such a bad idea . . . especially since my mind is still spinning over the possibilities.

All in all=☆☆☆☆☆


*Summary taken from Goodreads.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Music is What Feeling Sounds Like

Music, music, music. I got a comment asking if I could share some of my music on my blog, and I'm surprised I didn't think of doing this before. Here are just a couple of choices of what I think are the most beautiful songs I can think of at the moment in no particular order. (Warning: I tend to think sad songs are the most beautiful so I can't be held responsible for anyone feeling immediate depression after listening to any of these.)

1. It's You - Super Junior


(Warning: the English subtitles might confuse you but that's OK. They confuse everyone.)
Meet Super Junior. Once the biggest boy band in the world with thirteen members. They'll frequently appear on any song list by a K-Pop lover, and I've personally been a fan from my first foray into K-Pop. One thing that appeals to me about K-Pop (Korean pop music) is the quality of their music videos. OK, sometimes it really doesn't work but half the time they're still better than most American produced MVs. This MV is the Drama version, in which the members walk around personifying the same person with their own personal touch. I personally think that at the beginning of this video, they were left by a girl and that's when they realized that it's her, she's the one. Sigh. I'm not romantic but that always gets me.

2. One - Epik High feat. Ji Sun


This is the first music video to ever make me cry. It took me a while to even understand what was going on and piece the actual video with the subtitles. Epik High does sing in Korean but they can't be classified as K-Pop. Before they appeared, the only music the majority of Koreans listened to was slow ballads or pop music. They brought hip hop music to Korea, and made it all the better for it. Did you know rap is actually an acronym of Rhythm And Poetry? I learned that by listening to Epik High.

Even if you don't understand, just listen and try and find the English lyric translation. I promise you will be swept away. Epik High is made up of 1 creative producer and 2 rappers, one of whom graduated from Stanford with a Masters in Creative Writing and the other who was a poet before becoming part of the underground hip hop movement. They have creative credibility, not to mention that one of their albums was banned from Korea for touching on subjects like government corruption, prostitution and religion.

3. Stay - Jesse Thomas


There's something so raw about this song. First time I listened to this, I was actually angry that it was so damn short! Then I realized that that was half the charm, and so I listened to it again and again and I've yet to tire of it. (And yes this song was on Degrassi. No, I don't watch it but man, was I ever surprised when I found it the number of amazing songs that are being featured in that show.)

4. Please - Jang Jae In


I did not like Athena. But I am addicted to this song. I've loved Jang Jae In ever since I heard her voice on a Korean Idol of sorts. I can't believe she's only nineteen. I watched this video of her recording Chasing Pavements when she was seventeen and my jaw dropped. Her voice is more soulful than most English artists I've listened to. Here are the English lyrics.

5. Louder Than Thunder - The Devil Wears Prada


Gah. So. Pretty.

6. The Genius Next Door - Regina Spektor


I realize that some people might understand the appeal of Regina Spektor but her lyrics are worth the listen. She's an honest-to-God genius from the way she sings, to her composition, to the words that follow. She's the genius next door.

7. Papa, Can You Hear Me? - Lea Michele


I was close. This close to bawling. I think, despite how sad the episode was, I felt that way because this song is just so beautiful. This is the song that made me fall in love with Lea Michele separate from her character. The range that she shows, just the fact that she can whisper and still sing like that. I just can't get over how awesome sauce she is.


That's all I've got for today, but leave any kind of suggestions on what you think the most beautiful songs you've ever listened to.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Follow Me Friday (3)

Follow Me Friday is a Weekly Meme hosted by Parajunkee. Every Friday bloggers participate to answer a specific question and spread the love!

Q. It's circle time. Time for us to open up and share. Can you tell us FIVE quirky habits or things about you? We all have them...

1. I don't like babies. I know that that's akin to being virtually inhumane, but I don't. And I'm not sorry for it. They freak me out with their disproportionate body parts (i.e. large heads and large eyes). Strangely, I love toddlers ...

2. I'm addicted to Asian music. And Celtic music. And Reggae music. And the soundtracks of any film/show in existence. And Italian opera sung by Korean singers. Case in point, my newest obsession:


And just a couple of months ago, I couldn't stop listening to jazz.

3. Like a lot of bloggers it seems, I suffers from insomnia. Usually to get to sleep, I have to play solitaire and read some random trivia (I have mild case of OCD) and listen to "A Year of Love" which is by a singer whom I worship. But at the same time, I don't really mind it. I love staying up at night and then walking around in the very early morning. I have done so many times and the experience is honestly one of kind. I am seriously considering turning nocturnal.

4.I read really fast. When I first received Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, (I wasn't aware) my sister timed me and I finished in 2 hours and thirty seven minutes. One of my many nicknames in the family is Spongebob.

5. I've always had a very strict schedule for Saturdays. Nowadays, I wake up at around 11:00, drive around until 12:55 and then return to my television to alternate between watching cooking shows on PBS (a television station which I've been faithful to since first exposure to Arthur) and writing.

TGIF!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Worse Off Wednesday

Worse Off Wednesday is a brand new weekly meme created over at The Book Buff. Every week you post up about a character you think is worse off.

This meme is a brilliant idea. I can think of tons of characters who are worse off. Of course, most books I read feature a character who get progressively worse off as the story goes on. One of the most recent ones that come to mind is Alison from Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson.

Being able to see music and taste colors sounds great at first but imagine not being able to turn it off. Ever. Imagine having to hide it, ignore it even as it pushes against your brain itself, because you're afraid of your mother who forbid from ever even mentioning it. Then imagine believing that you killed a girl because of it, and being carted off to a psychiatric hospital after confessing all about it.

To date, I've yet to remember a character in a contemporary world who started off this bad. Despite the intelligent love interest, I wouldn't change my place with Alison if I was given position as Emperor of the World. (OK, maybe. Just maybe.)

Borvil's Behemoth (Mild Spoilers)

The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.

Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan's peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.

Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what's ahead.*


Behemoth was everything a sequel should be in my opinion: different in all aspects. Location wise, character wise and conflict wise. There wasn't much conflict in Leviathan other than Alek, who couldn't be caught, and the Leviathan's getaway. Behemoth is soaked in it, on the other hand, and the location made the experience all the better.

Set in early twentieth century Istanbul, as Westerfield mentioned in the author's note, unlike in real world history, the revolution was unsuccessful the first time around leaving the sultan's position still intact by the time the First World War came around. Changing that little bit of history was such a great decision; having this whole mess take place in a city that's rife with anarchists and German controllers wouldn't have been half as fun. The uncertainty (regarding the revolution and such) of the city ensured that the readers see that it's rich with so many customs and cultures that even with instability and invaders its multicultural traditions are left virtually untouched. I think that's what gave this book just one star just because. It's not just the culture of those living in Istanbul but I also learned some fabulous German. Who knew you didn't need a glossary to understand it?

I've read some reviews on Goodreads that say that they disliked the fact that Westerfield introduced this other character into the mix. I say, hurray! More conflict! It was particularly funny after Alek's certain revelation about said character towards Deryn and its ending, which made me squeal with delight as I read by the pool. Alek and Deryn's relationship grows a little deeper in this book as well as Alek tells her the last of his secrets and Deryn starts to feeling the beginning pangs of angsty guilty about her own little secret. I was really hoping though that she would tell him. There was this one moment (which Deryn agreed with me afterwards) in which I was hoping against hope that she would tell him but then ... Sigh. We can't always get what we want.

The pacing was excellent in this book. With every little thing that was wrapped up, a bigger problem presented itself. That kept me on edge the whole time I was reading and the ending blew me away. It's going to be angst fodder now that right after Deryn's fully accepts the fact that she's in love with the little prince, she hears how Alek will never ever marry a commoner and give his children the same fate the marriage of his parents gave him. And then the punches just keep coming! My mouth literally dropped at the penultimate page. It was the last thing I expected to happen. But I was placated by the hope that Alek and Deryn's journey might end in Japan. It's the Taisho period! Who doesn't want to see princely Alek tripping over his kimono? Though I have little doubt that Deryn will be doing the same.

The third book in the series, Goliath, comes out September 20 2011. Want. So. Badly. I also confess to stalk Scott Westerfield's blog in comfort that I'm not the only one doing so.


All in all=☆☆☆☆☆


*Summary taken from Goodreads.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Earthbound

In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.*


The hype behind this book was incredible. First off, not only did one my favorite Goodreads reviewer give it five stars but the overall review ratings for Unearthly were almost five stars. I had to give in, and I'm partly glad I did.

Unearthly - this may have been said before - is the anti-Twilight. It features a girl who's smack dab in the middle of her journey as an angel, her big move having a purpose with selfish consequences, the main love interest who's actually just nice, a potential one who could be Gilbert Blythe's twin (if he wasn't already someone else's) and - gasp! - a family anyone can relate to. If this had been released a few years ago, I might have fainted at the thought of such instantaneousness progression.

One thing I loved about this book was the fact that Clara might be a quarter-angel but she never seems to feel that way. There are never those awkward moments where she's feeling the angelness and it makes her seem holier-than-thou and all Virgin-Maryish. It's actually at those angelic moments that Clara seems to feel the most awkward. It's a refreshing change from all the paranormal heroines who seem to find out about their powers and gain complete mastery over them in the space of an entire week.

I really did enjoy Unearthly. I especially loved Tucker and Angela. Tucker with all his gruff affection because he spent half a year teasing a girl he didn't know how to like. Angela because I'm having this inkling she's going to do something bad and that is all pure win in my book as are Goth angels. Christian ... I like the broody. Unfortunately, other than his looks, I really can't remember anything else about him. That makes me disappointed because I remember being seriously excited that he was showing interest in Clara and sad at the quick way her infatuation with him faded away.

This brings me to one of the main reasons why I only enjoyed the first and last half of the book: the stalking.

OK, so Christian was Clara's purpose, I get that. But the vibes I was getting from the way she was always around him reminded me of the reason why I hated Twilight and the rest of its predecessors. It was creepy. I couldn't get over the fact that she was literally following him around, watching him all the time, hanging around his favorite haunts, disliking his girlfriend and even going so far as to adopting some of his habits just because she needed to get near him. Read this book and tell me that Clara wasn't seriously crushing on this boy, purpose or no. That made it even more uncomfortable to read. It felt like Hand had created this purpose solely to get them together which would have seriously pissed me off had it not been for Tucker's existence. I honestly had to put the book down to process the fact that everyone, Angela included, wanted Kay out of the picture just so Clara could find her purpose. For once, the "mean girl" had a reason for being mean! The girl was trying to steal her boyfriend so blatantly of course she had every right to defend him (although spreading rumors was a little nasty I suppose). Couldn't Clara have done her purpose even with Kay in the picture? Hand-holding, cheek stroking or no?

There were only two other things that bothered me about the book: the wings and the upcoming sequel.

Maybe this is my fault. I was coming into this book with two impression: the wings and the upcoming sequel. I thought that these angels wouldn't have wings. They are crucial to the plot line, yes, but I find that it could have been so much more without them. (SPOILER) When I read that Black Wings (I shuddered at the name - I mean, Hand came up with Dimidus and Quarterius! Why, Black Wings? Why?), I nearly bawled. The way Hand described how they could be sensed was just so incredibly powerful that it hit me at all the right spots and more. The fact that Black Wings felt massive, externalizing guilt because of what they did was so spot on with angelology that I wanted to send Hand an email touting my internal author-crush. Then along came Sam. Sigh. Something about that scene made me uncomfortable as well. It seemed like Hand wanted him to be a villain and a sympathetic character at the same time and it just didn't click. (Although I am in bliss at the fact that Clara's MOM saved her!) (END OF SPOILER)

My other crushed impression was that this would be a stand-alone novel. Of course it wouldn't. Although it makes a little bit of sense considering that Hand has clearly put thought into the mythology of her world that one novel wouldn't be enough, I still honest-to-God thought that it was going to be a stand-alone and I was just so excited. Well, we can't have and eat too, can we? (This does not mean I will not be checking in to the sequel, I'll just be less excited. Sad face.)

Unearthly is still an excellent book and worthy of the hype. Hand's mythology is so intricate and thought-out that it makes you want to read more just for the sake of learning it. Not to mention, she kept her mythology close to the original source (No sparkly, gentlemanly creatures here!) but Hand deftly dealt with the subject of God so well that no one could possibly have any objections. Teen fluff or not, Unearthly is worth checking out for Tucker's wisecracks and the mythology alone.


All in all=☆☆☆☆


*Summary taken from Goodreads.

Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists! Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists.

I'm adding another meme and this one particularly interested me. This week we're to list our top ten favorite minor characters ever. This is going to take SO MUCH THINKING.


(WARNING: MILD SPOILERS)


1. Irene Adler from the Sherlock Holmes series

Daring enough to blackmail a king. Cool enough to pull off the bored noblewoman. Cunning enough to pull the wool over Holmes's eyes and outsmart him while he's in the middle of outsmarting her. All of this in a time when women were considered petty creatures who scheme for the sake of it. Adler was the only person to ever have outmatched Holmes. She's everything I want to be and more.

2. Myrnin from the Morganville Vampires series

Three words sum up my love for him: crazy (literally) genius vampire. (OK, so that's four but whatever.)

3. Foaly from the Artemis Foal series.

A genius who's also half horse? I was half in love with him when I first discovered in my fourth grade - of course, the other half of my love went to the boy who out-geniused him.

4. Lady Dela from the Eon series

Who's the most conniving courtesan you'll ever meet? Lady Dela, that's who. She's also got more things to worry about like what inner robe matches best with her hairpiece and which one would coordinate better with the emperor's dress than whether a handful of people in court hate her and her cross-dressing ways.

5. Sarai from the Trickster series

Sarai is awesome. I would have put Dove up but she's not really a minor character (then again, none of mine seem to be either). I loved Sarai from the moment Ali noticed the way she treated the slaves and the way they treated her. Like she said herself, everyone assumed she was just an airheaded. The fact that she used that to her advantage made my eleven-year-old jaw drop in admiration, and it still does.

6. Diana from Anne of Green Gables

Diana brings back memories. I always found that she was the ideal best friend. Even if she and Anne fought, it was easily mended. She was polite but brave, curious but timid and an adventurer that liked to travel through books rather than like the safety of her home. Kindred spirits indeed, I still think the cordial incident is the funniest thing since my brother's home videos.

7. Simon from the Mortal Instruments series

I'm listing him because he was so utterly and completely wasted in this soap opera-ish drama-fueled series. OK, I admit I was going to buy City of Fallen Angels because it's supposed to focus on him but then ... the rumors. At the first rumor about the book centering around Couple-Whose-Names-Shall-Not-Be-Named, I headed straight for the library and almost bawled my way through the book. There should be Character Police. Simon shouldn't be wasted with female characters of whom he shares no chemistry with and be caught dead sharing the same pages angsty-wangsty of the Shall-Not-Be-Named, let alone be best friends with. He's smart like actually, got turned into a rat, and despite the fact that he's a day-walking vampire, he's still a geeky smartass. Cla-a-are! *whiny flail* Why?

All right, all right. Rant over.

8. Kendra from Beastly

She was awesome. Just awesome. This isn't the beautiful enchantress/wrinkled old lady who graced the original Belle et Le Bete: she's just your everyday girl who'll pretty much kick your ass to last Tuesday if you mess with her. Who wouldn't want the ability to turn your tormentor into a beast?

9. Tyson from the Percy Jackson series

So. Cute.

10. Sydney from the Vampire Academy series

My favorite character in the series after Black Lissa (who didn't last long - hmph!), she also appears in the only book in the last half of the series that gets three stars. It was deducted one because eventually Rose had to meet Dimitri. And whine again. Though the staking was epic. And so is Sydney because she seems like a kindred spirit all geeky and such. I'll be reading her book with trepidation. (Wait does that mean she doesn't count as a minor character after all? Should I add Bloodlines to the line of books where she comes from?)


So I have a feeling none of the listed are really minor characters. I've failed this epically but on the other hand this list took me two hours of sifting through my Goodreads "read" pile to create so there's no way I'm doing this all over again. Enjoy!

Monday, May 16, 2011

In My Mailbox #2

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme held by Kristy over at The Story Siren.

Not that I've finished my other mailbox, but here's another all the same!

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Cherie Priest's much-anticipated steampunk debut has finally arrived in the form of a paperback original. Its plot features the sort of calibrated suspense that readers of her Four and Twenty Blackbirds would expect. Boneshaker derives its title from the Bone-Shaking Drill Engine, a device designed to give Russian prospectors a leg up in the race for Klondike gold. Unfortunately, there was one hitch: On its trial run, the Boneshaker went haywire and, long story short, turned much of Seattle into a city of the dead. Now, 16 years later, a teenage boy decides to find out what is behind that mysterious wall. Can his sister save him in time? Zombie lit of the first order.

Steampunk! Ever since I got into Leviathan, I've been dying for more steampunk! And lo, it has been delivered safe and sound.


Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

Originally published to wide critical acclaim in France, where it elicited comparisons to Art Spiegelman's Maus, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's wise, funny, and heartbreaking memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran's last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran: of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life and of the enormous toll repressive regimes exact on the individual spirit. Marjane’s child's-eye-view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolisis at once a story of growing up and a stunning reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, through laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.

I've already watched the movie online with all of the books molded together and found it absolutely amazing. Of course, since it's a graphic novel, the movie was a lot more faithful to its primary source than other book-to-movie translations. It'll be a fast read, though, that's for sure!

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

EEEEE! I've wanted to get my hands on this for a while now and I finally have. I can't wait to read it!

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

When Coraline steps through a door to find another house strangely similar to her own (only better), things seem marvelous. But there's another mother there, and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. They want to change he and never let her go.
Coraline will have to fight with all her wits and courage if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life.

Like Persepolis, I've watched the movie, fallen in love and have now distanced myself enough from that experience (I hope) to properly read the book. Which reminds me, I should get on the Stardust boat as well.


Behemoth by Scott Westerfield

The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.

Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan's peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.

Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what's ahead.

YES.

I'm so excited. For too many things actually, now that I think about it.

Goodbye, Sahara!


Random update followed by review tomorrow!

The Hunger Games has officially started now that they've collected their cast. Sigh. I don't have much of an objection for Jennifer Lawrence after I've seen her in Winter's Bone (gah, she was simply amazing!) but every time I see her, it irks me that they really had to cast a blue-eyed, blond Amazon to play a scrawny Italian-looking girl. It's not just that, but the rest of the main cast as well. Why not give the role of Haymitch to a black guy? Or the role of Effie? Although maybe Effie was seen as white, I don't remember her skin being described as white. I mean, sure we can all say that "Hey! They can act! Hair color and contacts and tan and weight loss (it is Hollywood of course) exist!" but really? Does no one see the fact that this is just another movie that's being completely whitewashed? I can't imagine what this movie would have been in the hands of European-based studios. In any case, there's also speculation that the location of the filming will be around North Carolina, where the call for extras was given. (Source: The USA Today)

I think I've found Oprah's successor. And also my new role model. And my new number one on my to-meet list. Introducing the Oprah of Afghanistan: Mozhdah!

Giveaways! A contest is being held over at Jest Kept Secret and the prizes are so good. They're offering Paranormalcy, Leviathan, a mock cover and a query critique! You can enter multiple times for each link (tweet, facebook, etc) for the contest as well as support for Help Write Now which is a website dedicated to helping out with the disasters in the Southeast. Donate, blog or bid, do whatever you can to help, contest or no!

What are you waiting for?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Mangled League

After the death of her free-spirited mother, sixteen-year-old Alex Lee must leave her home in northern California to live with her wealthy grandmother in Savannah, Georgia. By birth, Alex is a rightful, if unwilling, member of the Magnolia League, Savannah's long-standing debutante society. She quickly discovers that the Magnolias have made a pact with a legendary hoodoo family, the Buzzards. The Magnolias enjoy youth, beauty and power. But at what price?

As in her popular adult novels, Crouch's poignant and humorous voice shines in this seductively atmospheric story about girls growing up in a magical Southern city.


I couldn't finish it.

Here's the hoedown: I like the South. I went to see The Last Song just so I could marvel at the background shots and cinematography not ogle at the actors and their tragic acting. Georgia in fact is full of history. I researched houses down south and their old, old customs. I like to think of myself as an honorary Southern. Even if I wasn't, I don't know if this is how the folks in Savannah, Georgia act or speak. The text is peppered with "hee-ah"s instead of heres and "per-tuuuuuuhb"s instead of perturbs. I'm not sure about whether or not the author knows this but those kinds of asides make the reader - well me in particular - think that I'm a little stupid. I think I could visualize a Southern accent without Crouch's help all I would need is a ' "Trying to perturb me?" she drawled.' and the image would slide in just like that. Plus I do have a friend from Savannah and as a lifer, she doesn't speak with that much of a drawl. In fact it only comes out when she's angry. (But I don't know. Maybe the author based it some friends of hers who do have accents!)

There's a lot of telling. An unhealthy amount of it. I also didn't understand the whole switch in POVs. It would honestly be a lot more of a compelling read if everything hadn't been revealed in between the chapters of Alex's confusion. It might have even changed the way I felt about the book. Hasn't Crouch heard that less is more? Well, there are probably a lot of YA authors nowadays who've ran the opposite way when it comes to that saying. Then there's the name dropping which, OK, can be used when it comes to describing the rich but not all the time. D&G, Marc Jacobs, Mercedes, Blackberry Curve?! Why would anyone need to know that your character have a Blackberry Curve? What possible use could that be in a plot?

For a snob-hater Alex is kind of a snob (and yes, Madison, she is also kind of a cliche). She uses the word "rad" as if all Californians who grow up on pot communes do has this irritating way of making herself seem better than you. She has to explain "big words" like awesome and that even though she gets high, it's only to make sadness go away and she doesn't really like it anyway. She says the word "awesome" is supposed to be used exactly as it first was "making one full of awe" - and then Alex promptly spins on her heel and uses it in the same context as the rest of our clothes-buying generation.

She also treats Hayes and Madison with inexplicable disdain - OK, Madison it's understandable because they get under each other's skin the moment they meet but Hayes tries to be friendly at it still takes a while and several "mindless consumer" and "spending money when other people deserve it" preaches to get through to her. For no reason.

It was also alarming at how insensitive Alex could be about her mother's death - remarking offhandedly on how her mother could've used a protection bracelet before the car crash, the way that when she wakes up in the morning the first person she misses is Reggie and not her dead mother. Then there's the way that she moans over missing Reggie then does a 360 when she sees Hayes's brother - though agreed, he's a huge step up from the other sleazy.

I also take offense to what Alex thinks about the fact that she's a girl. Apparently, she "hates being a girl. Because tears always come at the worst possible time." (Or something like that.) I don't know about all the girls out there but just because a girl is a girl, doesn't mean she'll burst into tears the moment she gets emotional. I know that Crouch might not have meant it that way but really, there is a much better way to have worded that.

Alex seems like just such a two-face. One moment she's proud of her dreads the next she's saying that they're Reggie's fault. The moment Sina shows up, any thoughts of thanks for Madison who just saved her ass from those "bullies" is out the door. The Magnolia league, which she has been ragging on for the past book and a half, is suddenly a gruop of strong women with timely traditions ... and then Alex ditches her OMG-way-too-girly-friends for a beer. Then complains that she wants to defend them. Then the moment of contradiction: when she's talking with Thaddeus and he says he and Madison used to go out, Alex thinks this is boring and then goes to say "So what happened?" Sweet Georgia tea, she flipflops more than a dying fish!

Even as a sort of stereotype, Miss Lee, the Maleficent level of awesomeness grandmother, is cool - as in she cuts Alex down to size. I mean, how could you try and break into a room in the house of which you now live in without asking the owner of the house to open it first? Alex's characterization just boggles me.

The transition of this book is also just really awkward. The story will wander off in one chapter to say something that is entirely not needed. In fact midway through the introduction of a new character, it was as if Crouch remembered "Oh! I haven't described her yet!" and without any transition just lays it on you. It was jarring because I wasn't sure if I had read that right at all.

OK, the secondary characters in this book not to mention the primary ones are amazing underdeveloped. There was one scene when I was just so incredibly uncomfortable that I had to stop. The bullies, the school, they were so cliched and useless that it made me want to pull my hair out. No offense but we get that the MC doesn't like the way she looks. There's no need to hammer it in so that later on her transformation can shock and awe them all. Everyone's described as with a tan, either gold or orange, and are either nice and quirky (Dex) or bitchy and quirky (Sina) or just bitchy (the rest of the bunch). It gets exasperating at times because it's so easy to confuse all these uninmporatnt similar characters together. At one point, I had thought Miss Lee was talking to Alex when to my surprise it was actually Hayes. Is that even normal? Since when can you mix up the voices of a fifty/sixty year old cultured woman with a teenage girl?

But the description was great. The first part that I was reading, I could actually see the sunny roads, shaded campus lawns and sprawling mansions that Alex so often frequented. Not even that, however, could keep my attention for long. I just couldn't deal with Alex. This is only the second time I've been unable to finish a book before and to be honest, I don't think I'll be reading anymore of Katie Crouch's Magnolia League series. I might give one of her newer books a shot, though, if I see better reviews. (Which was one thing that puzzled me. One of my favorite reviewers gave it a one-star on Goodreads and everyone else seemed to love it so I went in a little hopeful and now realized I should trust said reviewer from now.)

All in all=

*This book was provided by NetGalley
**Summary taken from Goodreads

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Once Upon A Time V


I stumbled across this picture while being lazy on the Internet again when I should be working. I had to follow the jump and I'm glad I did. I came to a quest or a challenge of sorts held over at Stainless Steel Droppings (heh) on books about fairytales, magic and folktales. It sounds so great that I'm signing up too!

This is the challenge I'm taking:


Read at least one book from each of the four categories. In this quest you will be reading 4 books total: one fantasy, one folklore, one fairy tale, and one mythology. This proves to be one of the more difficult quests each year merely because of the need to classify each read and determine which books fit into which category. I am not a stickler, fear not, but I am endlessly fascinated watching how folks work to find books for each category.

I might be late in the game but I already have my books lined up! I'll be reviewing:

Fantasy: The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones
Mythology: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Folklore: Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud
Fairytale: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I'm so excited!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Trailer


I get the chills every time I watch this. The music mixed in with the editing that should have been choppy but ended up showcasing the epic span of this series and the voiceovers and the knowledge of what's to come . . . Chills.

Follow Me Friday (2)

Since I'm extremely absentminded, I didn't realize that i hadn't gone to Parajunkee's HQ and thought the old question was the new one. Sigh. I really didn't want to delete my other post and my link so I'm just going to do another one! Yay!

As you know, Follow Me Friday is hosted by Parajunkee to help promote bloggers and other fun stuff.

Q. The Blogger Apocalypse made me a little emotional. What is the most emotional scene in a book that you have read lately?


That's probably the very, very end of Before I fall. I won't spoil it for anyone but I wasn't moved by that book until I realized what was going to happen. That might be because I'm watching 49 Days, which is a show about a girl who tries to collect tears so she can come back to life. I think the reality of Before I Fall hit me just a little bit too late. Granted, I wasn't bawling but I can't deny that I didn't feel the tears gathering in my eyes. Hallmark of a well written book and what made me give the book more stars.