Friday, February 28, 2014

Coming Attractions: March

{Apropriately Spring-y Desktop Wallpaper courtesy of the wonderful Oana Befort

Like January, it seems that February was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it kind of month. Honestly, I can't even remember what I managed to do with most of it, without the benefit of going over my planner and calendar's many scribbled-in schedules and endless amounts of to-do lists in the hopes of spurring on a memory. Even then, the things that I can remember - getting a new English professor after our previous one left halfway through the quarter, writing an article for the Tacoma Weekly, applying for a position as a Recruitment Counselor for Formal Fall Recruitment 2014 - seem like yesterday's news by now. What I'm really focused on, is the future! 

March is going to be a big, big, big month for me. It's ending the quarter on a strong note and kicking ass at Finals, moving into a new room in the house with two of my best friends for the rest of the school year, loving Seattle in the springtime, seeing my Dad in a new show, letting it loose on Spring Break, watching the Cheerleader experience some of the most exciting times of being a Daffodil Princess, more writing, more hard work, and more fun times to be had by all! March is going to be, for me, the month of opportunity. 

FEBRUARY HIGHLIGHTS


{Seeing The Cheerleader starting to take on her Daffodil duties (and getting a little nostalgic for my own reign); celebrating Valentine's Day; going on a weekend trip to Disneyland with the bestie!}


these are a few of my favorite links...

  1. In celebration of the upcoming release of Divergent this month, how 'bout a throwback to Team Epic Reads' Faction Tea Party with Veronica Roth
  2. And speaking of Team Epic Reads, have you seen their Epic Chart of YA Retellings yet? 162 different books set up in a map of the mythologies and fairy tales they originated from... I know I've got a lot to add to my TBR list! 
  3. My fam knows how much I love scented candles... so how am I supposed to say know to Fandlemonium's "Candles for Geeks"? Especially the Harry Potter ones... 
  4. My English 307 class has really made me reevaluate the status of graphic novels in contemporary literature, and now all I want is more! Good thing Buzzfeed made this list of 60 Comics Everyone Should Read
  5. Looking for some organization inspiration with Spring Cleaning in the air... maybe the promise of some new, super sweet stamped pencils can serve as a reward? 

quote of the month

Thursday, February 27, 2014

College Fashion Link Up: Fangirl

Sometimes, book recommendations can come from some pretty unexpected places. I've had reading recs come from random people I meet in bookstores, and dug up from random reviews online, and even in the random grocery stores checkout line, I've found new books to read. Which makes it seem super weird that one of the most unexpected places from which I might get a book lent to me, ended up being my fourteen-year-old sister.

Yep, that's right: someone closer to the ideal age for readers of Young Adult than I, and someone who predicted the inevitable publishing power of the incomparable Rainbow Rowell before I, was the one to first lend me any of the newly popular author's books, and that someone was my baby Ballerina. She's only really gotten into books within the past six months or so, and I couldn't be happier for her newest source of happiness. Now, I've got someone to fangirl with me, and read Fangirl with me. So, in honor of this most welcome of developments in my family life, I decided to make the novel the topic of my most recent post on College Fashion's "Looks from Books" column.

And I'm so happy The Ballerina recommended this novel to me. From it's all-too-relatable college setting, to it's quirky, adorable heroine, to it's bordering-on-Sarah-Dessen-sweet hero, I couldn't put this book down, and honestly, it made me want to go back to writing more of my own fiction. While those dreams may have to wait until we're out of the mire that is midterms in the last quarter of Winter Quarter, I can still enjoy this great contemporary YA read right now. Here's my favorite look from the article, based off of the character of Cath: 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Magical Reads: Reading Recs Inspired by Disneyland

 Sorry about the recent unplanned hiatus... I seem to have found myself in a bit of a pickle over the last week or so, over an overwhelming to-do list with so little room to-do in my planner, mainly caused by a weekend trip to Disneyland to celebrate my bestie's 22nd Birthday! So, between packing, and planning, and, well, enjoying my time at the Happiest Place on Earth, I've had little to no time to post... I know, I know, my life is so hard!

Well, after spending the weekend getting around five hours of sleep a night and walking around all day, you might say I got a little bit tired. Or maybe you can say I'm exhausted. And the necessary psychological transition between Disneyland and reality was way too hard of a hurdle to jump on a rainy Monday. So, I've been taking a little time to reacclimate to the fact that Seattle doesn't have a churro stand within every approximate 200 feet. 

But seriously? I don't want that magic to end. So as I've found myself time and again unable to sink into a book due to my preoccupation with another kind of magic, I had an epiphany: why not read a couple of books that take me back, instead of helping me move on? Therefore, I've assembled some recommended reading lists, perfect to take you back to some of your favorite Disneyland... Lands. (Magically redundant).


And just for clarity's sake, let's wind our path clockwise, starting at the left hand side of the park, just like the path my family travels as soon as we get through the gates (mainly because that's the fastest way to get to Pirates of the Caribbean, our traditional first ride, but still). Alright, everybody, here we go!


First is Adventureland, home to Dole Pineapple Whips, the quipping skippers of the Jungle Cruise, and, one of my favorite rides, Indiana Jones and the Temple of the 2 Hour Line. Adventureland was conceived not as a duplication of one kind of exotic locale over another, but instead, as an amalgamation of all the far-off places that serve as inspiration for youthful adventurers, combining Middle Eastern, African, Asian, and Tropical influences for an overall magical place you couldn't find anywhere other than Disneyland... and your own imagination. What sort of books might you read to perfectly capture the adventure, suspense, and rhythm of the jungle? 

Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, served as the basis for the exciting and adventurous 1999 animated film, as well as the Tarzan's Treehouse attraction. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, surprisingly enough, also served as a source of inspiration; this time, for the winding pathways, roughly-assembled queue area, and fearsome native assailants of the Jungle Cruise, while The Jungle Books, by Rudyard Kipling, are yet another foundational work for a Disney classic, that also helped inspire Walt Disney's vision of Adventureland itself. 


New Orleans Square, my favorite area of the entire park, was the one of which I was originally the most afraid; however, nowadays, I've fallen in love with the cheerfully macabre and darkly daring exploits of the hitchhiking ghosts and rapscallion pirates, and the two rides housed within this area of the park are two of my favorites. Based on the 19th century history of New Orleans, it was the first addition to the park in 1966, and cost roughly $18 million... which is about the same amount of money I'd pay to have a Mickey-shaped beignet and a mint julep in hand right about now. What novels might call to mind the same gothic glamour and extravagant history? 

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, might not take place in New Orleans (or even the same continent), but its classic twisted tale of gothic romance and ghosts serves as a similar match for the 999 residents of The Haunted Mansion. The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd, by Richard Zacks, is a nonfiction reminder of the carousing contenders competing with Jack Sparrow for the title of my favorite pirate. And Disney-official cookbooks like Cooking with Mickey and Chef Mickey fill a bit of the void left by lack of New Orleans Square food, which, lets face it, is some of the best in the entire park (Blue Bayou's Monte Cristo Sandwiches being the pinnacle of excellence, of course). 

Frontierland, one of the less active areas in the park due to fewer rides, makes up for its dearth of attractions with an overwhelmingly spectacular ambience. The dusty grit and uncontrollable action of Manifest Destiny and the Old West may have faded to the annals of history, but not here, where runaway mine cars, saloon gals, and shooting expositions are still in happy supply. (The fact that Thunder Mountain was closed during our vacation was almost enough to put my dear Bestie into an early grave, I'm telling you.) What books might capture that same invigorating expansion into the frontier of old? 

Louis L'amour is a champion of the western genre, and his expertise are especially evident in How the West Was Won, while True Grit, by Charles Portis is a best-seller that retains a large cultural following even so many years later. Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry is a slightly more recent release that still manages to perfectly hearken back to the kind of action that put the "wild" in Wild West. 

Fantasyland is probably the most easy category for which to accumulate a reading list, being that the majority of its many rides take firm basis in classic children's literature. It is the most prominently featured land in each and every one of the Disney parks, providing a home for each of the respective castles, from Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty castle to Tokyo Disney's home for Cinderella. Walt Disney himself said, "What youngster has not dreamed of flying with Peter Pan over moonlit London, or tumbling into Alice's nonsensical Wonderland? In Fantasyland, these classic stories of everyone's youth have become realities for youngsters - of all ages - to participate in." It isn't difficult to find plenty of novels that encompass that same kind of magic. 

The works of the Grimm Brothers serve as basis for the popularization of such inevitably classic Disney Princesses like Snow White and Rapunzel, while Hans Christian Andersen takes responsibility for writing "The Little Mermaid" and "The Snow Queen" (the latter of which served as Disney's most recent source of popular inspiration, as it is the basis of the smash hit film, Frozen!). Alice in Wonderland is the most popularly represented in the parks, serving as the basis for two attractions, with the Mad Hatter's Tea Party and the actual Alice in Wonderland dark ride.


Tomorrowland is one of the largest, and most active, areas in the park, and most likely competes with only Fantasyland for most popular, as well. From the bronze-and-neon retro-futuristic sheen of its towering structures, to the captivating allure of routine upgrades and innovations via the constantly developing promise of the future, Tomorrowland has served as a source of inspiration and promise for the future since the park opened in 1955, all the way back when the land depicted what Disney thought the world might look like by the dazzling tomorrow of 1986. Thankfully, the science fiction genre is a popular one, to say the least; however, not-so-popular is the kind of barefaced optimism and cheerful view of development that Tomorrowland stands for. 

Still, Philip K. Dick and H.G. Wells are pioneers in their field, with the former's depictions of robots living alongside humans in a synthetic-heavy world, and the latter's desperate and bleak view of social development and attitudes towards what constitutes food, serving as an interesting contrast to the hyper-hopeful organics of the park land (Fun Fact: the landscaping in Tomorrowland are also primarily sources of food, like flax, clover, aloe, artichoke, pomegranate, and lemon trees, being that the Imagineers in charge of the redesign thought that in the future, we'd take agricultural green areas where we could find them, and put them to the most use). Marissa Meyer's Cinder also calls to mind a tech-friendly and expansive universe of the future, and since it's based on a fairy tale, maintains that sense of magic and wonder Dick and Wells might be missing. 

__________
So, thus concludes our tour of the West Coast's happy kingdom. While I wish this bastion of childhood is one I could visit far more often, at least it's reassuring that the magic doesn't just stop at the end of the airplane terminal home. Until next time! 

Main Street, Critter Country, and Toon Town omitted by choice... then again, maybe we can revisit those some other time, like when my family returns to the Park in August!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons I Love Being a Blogger/Reader

"Top Ten Tuesday" is a weekly countdown meme, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish



Thank god this week isn't another Books that Inspire Feelings kind of deal, because I'm all done with options for swooning and crying. Let's dwell on something a little happier this week... like being grateful, and happy. Let's talk about why I love what I do, and why I've done it all my life, and why I've been blogging about it now for three-and-a-half years... let's talk about why I love reading books. 

why i love reading

It gave me a way to escape. 
It always gives me something to do. 
It helps me figure out the world around me. 
It makes me a better person. 
It helps me understand people better. 

why i love blogging

It gave me a voice I didn't know I had. 
It gave me something for myself, as well as share with others.  
It helped me develop as a writer. 
It gives me something to aspire to. 
It made me realize there's always going to be something for me to do. 

What's your Top Ten? 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Review: Something Strange and Deadly

 I'm one of those people who believes that you can stake a lot of a person's character, simply based on the people they ally themselves with. Not like in a political leanings kind of way - though I guess that's pretty reliable, too - but in a "what's your best friend like?" kind of way. Maybe it's the sorority girl in me, just because that's my favorite Recruitment question to ask, but it tells you a lot about what people value most, in human form. For instance, my best friend is super girly, incredibly sarcastic, hilarious, much more socially attuned to what is "cool" than I am, emotionally invested in the same things as me, and enjoys pulling me out of my comfort zone. (And she's getting an obligatory mention today, because it's her 22nd birthday!!!)

So, Susan Dennard, the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series, is best friends with my personal spirit animal S. J. Maas.

How am I just supposed to ignore something like that? As soon as I saw that the novel was stocked on the shelves of my local library, I had to dive right in... and I can definitely tell you that my "friends-as-litmus-tests-of-awesome" theory is as strong as ever.

Something Strange and Deadly follows Eleanor Fitt, a high ranking member of Philadelphia's Old Money, hiding a couple of terrible not-so-secret secrets... her family is actually poor, her mother has never been all that stable since her father's death, and, worst of all, her brother has disappeared! Only Eleanor knows the truth about that last part... after a terrifying encounter with the walking dead, she knows that her brother has been held hostage by the necromancer causing the rising of the Dead in Laurel Hill cemetery. Thankfully, the intrepid Spirit Hunters are holed up at the Centennial Exhibition nearby, and she thinks they can help. If only she could get the smile of that handsome inventor, Daniel, out of her head...

Dude! Zombies. 1874. Centenniel Exhibition. A super-cool, kick-butt-and-take-names heroine. A dreamy-but-stubborn love interest, and a dreamy-but-tortured love interest, and an overall love triangle that doesn't make me want to gouge my eyes out. This book seriously has it all.

I mean, I'm not going to say that some of it wasn't predictable. There were points that, as soon as they were introduced, that I knew where they were going. But I think that was mainly because I was thinking of the most awesome and perfect possible outcomes for each of the plot points that I thought were obvious, and they ended up happening. So, it was predictably awesome, I guess. 

I really enjoyed getting to know Eleanor, because she came off as very relatable - incredible accomplishment, being that I don't live in the 19th century or wear a corset, but feel like I "get" Eleanor - and I thought she exhibited a couple of characteristics of heroics that we don't necessarily get to see all that much in YA heroines. She was curious, and maybe got into a few scrapes that way, but was never hopelessly reckless. She was naive to some of the ways of the world, but definitely exhibited common sense, and was never an idiot. She had integrity, but never put off anyone with some kind of misplaced nobility. She was a smart, sensible, but still fun and open-hearted, person, and I wish there were more of her in YA.

And, to be honest, the setting did a lot for me, too. I feel like the whole East Coast Money thing has always had a stake in YA, but antiquated East Coast Money, in a not-so-Anna-Godbersen way? That's unique. And it was never historical in a wardrobe-explicit way - which is how I feel a lot of other wannabe historical fictions operate - but it detailed what was going on in a lot of different ways... technology was touched on, and so was architecture, world cultures, the development of America... it was all-inclusive, and I loved that Dennard tried really hard to form such a specifically historically accurate world, while also letting her imagination run wild in other places... with the Running Hungry Dead, most specifically.

But dude, seriously. Zombies. And that's something I loved, too: anyone who's seen good zombie media, from Zombieland to The Walking Dead, knows there are rules to these kinds of things, and Dennard's got zombies done right. (Go for the knees.)

Overall, Something Strange and Deadly was a great example of how to do YA, historical fiction, world-building, and zombie fiction, right, and it provided both an amazing heroine and a love triangle that didn't suck. Even the fact that it was a little predictable kept it grounded in awesome. Go read it now! 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Stacking the Shelves: My Why-I-Probably-Worry-Most-Librarians Haul

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly Saturday book meme from Tynga's Reviews, all about sharing the books you've added to your shelves over the course of the week.

Well, after the rather stunning amount of sanity preserved over yet another single-yet-no-less-awesome Valentine's Day, you'd think I'd be a little bit tuckered out, but no. I am charging into the coming three day weekend guns drawn, and ready to do some serious butt-kicking. I've got work to do, and seeing as though it's now Week Six of the quarter, a limited amount of time to do it! Still, that's not going to stop me from getting my reading done, too, and I think that my book haul for this week definitely proves that. 

FOR REVIEW

The Ballad of a Small Player: A Novel by Lawrence Osborne
Short, but definitely not simple, novel provided by Hogarth, about a mentally-debilitating poker addict, set to debut in April.








FROM THE LIBRARY 


(My younger sister, The Ballerina, was with me at the time, and actually felt the need to apologize to the young, cute librarian working the front desk that I was "stealing all his books." He felt the need to respond, "I'm sure she's only borrowing them." 

Also, I should probably add, I've already finished four of these... and two of them were yesterday. I had a very successful Valentine's Day, in the least likely sense of association with the holiday.) 

Bewitching by Alex Flinn
Alex Flinn is the queen of modern-day fairy tale adaptations, and I loved Beastly, so this companion, involving the return of Kendra, the witch who cursed Kyle Kingsbury in the first place, to meddle in the life of another teenager, looks like a fun one.

Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame
Supposedly the Anna-Godberson-esque answer for young adult fiction to the success of Downton Abbey. Alright, you've piqued my interest.

Joyland by Stephen King
My man, Stephen King. I so look forward to scaring the daylights out of myself with this. (And yes, I'm a jealous brat, because while I had been staring at this book on the shelf for some time, the reason I actually picked it up was because my Dad started staring, too!)

Fire with Fire (Burn for Burn #2) by Jenny Han
An eagerly anticipated sequel to a novel I read over the summer. 

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
There's definitely something to be said by judging people by those they associate with, and this lady is bestest besties with S. J. Maas, who I basically think in the most brilliant mind in the YA game today, so, there's that.

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
Heard a LOT of good things, and you know, who could ever say no to that cover? #ClosetCoverSlutProblems

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Once again, heard a lot of good things, but this one's got Nazis, and apparently, from what I've been told about it, I'm going to be doing a lot of crying.

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker
Magic. Alternate universes. Dashing gentlemen. Fights for survival. Comparisons to Lev Grossman's The Magicians and Deborah Harkness' Discovery of Witches. And, you know... pretty cover. (Damn it.)

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci 
I saw the named Holly Black peering at me from the shelves, so I followed it. That hasn't ever really steered me wrong before.

SO, what's your haul for this week? 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

College Fashion Post Link Up: Howl's Moving Castle (Part Two!)

Well, I don't know how the hell that happened, but apparently the ranks of College Fashion readers conceal a lot more closet fantasy and anime nerds than I could ever have hoped possible, because my previous CF post, detailing some retro, girly fashion inspired by the fantasy masterpiece Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones ended up accumulating 28 comments, making it my most popular article to date on the site. Like, what?

Once I got over the shock, I began to see that there were a couple of things about the post that may have heralded in such arduous fans, such as wooing the dual nerd-camps of both fantasy lovers and anime kids, creating looks that fit both the feel of the book and the style of the movie, and throwing in some tidbits for super-fans to glom on to, that made the article so beloved. Honestly, in a time of not quite so many commenters as I would hope for on my usual articles, I appreciated the support. Therefore, I decided to use this completely unbidden response to my utmost advantage, answering the cries of more than one commenter for a sequel with a shrug, and deftly-wielded outfit-building ability.

Now, here we are, with a second part - my first ever! - to placate, nay, enthrall the fangirl masses, and I sure as heck hope I don't disappoint. Here's one of my favorite outfits from the post, styled around the Castle itself, just to give you a taste of what you're in for...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fever

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that gives bloggers the opportunity to highlight upcoming releases about which they are extremely excited. 

While last week's Waiting on Wednesday wasn't a title I had to wait all that long for, today's is a bit farther in advance... June 17th, to be precise. But when you've got a title brewing on the horizon that features a rapidly spreading contagion, and a town full of secrets, well, how am I supposed to wait? Here's The Fever: A Novel, by Megan Abbott, set to debut on June 17th

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A seemingly idyllic small town's peaceful veneer is shattered, after a young girl collapses in an unexplained seizure during class. Inspired by the real story of 12 New York teenage girls at La Roy High School suddenly stricken with tics, outbursts, and strange convulsions, eventually classified as a mass psychogenic illness, The Fever follows the Nash family, whose closely-kept secrets have been cracked open by the drama, and whose daughter, Deenie, is left reeling after her best friend is the first to fall victim to the strange psychological disorder.
As the terrifying mystery illness spreads through the girls at their high school, sparking rumors of contagion, outbreak, and distrust, and causing rifts between members of the suburban community such violence has now infiltrated, more and more are diagnosed, and the question of what is striking these seemingly happy, normal girls, and who - or what - is to blame, still remains unanswered. 


Why I'm Excited?
Holy Source of Inspiration, Batman! I didn't know what much to make of the official blurb listed on the Goodreads page, but in following it back to the author's own website, I am mightily intrigued. If I can scream through this upcoming release with the same kind of suspense I found in those news articles from the 2013 La Roy outbreak, I will be one happy reader. 

What novels are you waiting on this Wednesday? 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Will Make You Swoon

"Top Ten Tuesday" is a weekly countdown meme, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish



Alright, we just covered last week what sort of books make me cry, and now, we're onto books that make me swoon, and just like last time, it's not a topic that I engage in quite regularly. Even when there is a swoon-worthy hero, I'm not usually the kind of girl to go all week-kneed just because of a well-written wooer.

In fact, in writing this list, there were a couple of specific patterns that began to develop... which begs the question, do I have a type? Which of these handsome fellows is really my fictional fantasy man?

19th Century Gentlemen

1. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy - Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
2. Mr. Edward Rochester - Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
3. Teddy Cutting - The Luxe series by Anna Godberson 
4. Kartik - A Great and Terrible Beauty series by Libba Bray

Modern Day Man-of-my-Dreams


5. Etienne St. Clair - Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
6. Owen Armstrong - Just Listen, by Sarah Dessen 
7. Park Sheridan - Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell 

Prince Charming

8. Kyle Kingsbury - Beastly by Alex Flinn
9. All of the Leading Men of The Once Upon a Time series, especially the ones by Debbie Viguie and Cameron Dokey
10. Westley - The Princess Bride by William Goldman 

Who are your Top Ten? 

Review: Everneath

Coming off of the YA high that was Marissa Meyer's Cinder - and what a high that was - I wasn't expecting the next book I read to knock me out of the park, simply due to the inevitable comparisons it would raise. But I was also so impressed by the state of that particular YA universe, that I immediately wanted to get my hands on another novel of the same caliber! Well, because that specific book craving, my prediction came true: despite the fact that it was such a well-loved YA novel - I mean, the clamor I heard from bloggers all around in anticipation for the final installment of its trilogy, Evertrue, back in the final stretch of January couldn't just be discounted, right? - it was a huge letdown for me. No matter how much I tried to psych myself up about it, I just couldn't get into Brodi Ashton's Everneath

Everneath follows the story of Nikki Beckett, a seventeen-year-old girl who is just trying to rebuild her life after having been sucked into the underworld the previous Spring by the darkly alluring Cole. The problem is, Cole wants her back, and at the end of six months, she has to return to Everneath, whether she wants to or not, and the difference between whether she returns of her own volition or not, is the difference between a dark eternity in the Tunnels, or a slighter brighter one, as Cole's queen. But what does that mean for Nikki's family and friends... or the love of her life, Jack?

Honestly, after a while, the book came off as one big over-glorified love triangle, and it didn't even make the distinction of playing outside the typical pattern of how that trope operates. There was Cole, this dark, brooding underworld figure, like Hades Lite, contrasted against the All-American boy Jack, a football player who dates against his mother's orders and gets an eyebrow piercing to show the pain of a broken heart. It was all just a little basic: the good guy, the bad boy, and the girl torn between the two because it's true love versus hot lust. It's not like this territory hasn't been tread before. 

The pacing and general plot also reminded me a lot of how I felt about Beautiful Creatures: kind of like the entire book was just a countdown to this specific event, a whole lot of uncompelling suspense and stalling, with little emotional payoff. There's this six-month period that Nikki has until she has to go back, and that fact is a hard one, stated in the very beginning, so it's basically as if the whole plot has a giant ticking alarm clock hanging over it, that makes what happens between Point A and Point B a little superfluous, because you know that whatever happens, it's really only that specific moment that's going to define the book as a whole. 

However, I'm not saying that the book was bad! The construction was actually quite good; Ashton integrated a really well-done disconnected flow of narrative that managed to maintain interest without becoming disjointed or unmaneuverable. The writing was good, the inspiration behind it - the Greek mythology - was integrated fairly well, and I think the characters - especially Nikki's relationship with her dad and brother - were very well-depicted, emotionally.

All in all, I was pretty disappointed with Everneath, which I thought lacked action, and relied to heavily on tropes of the genre. I thought the romance was a little overdone, but if you're really into that sort of thing, this book may just be a godsend for your shipping fleet. I just don't think it was for me. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Stacking the Shelves: The Mid-Quarter Slump Haul

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly Saturday book meme from Tynga's Reviews, all about sharing the books you've added to your shelves over the course of the week.

Well, we've won a Super Bowl, and braved below-freezing weather, and now, we've managed to survive half of Winter Quarter, up here in Seattle, and the effect of all of this on my psychological stability is manifesting itself in late nights, little free time, and at least one additional cup of tea every day. Despite the fact that all of the cogs turning in my life right now are leaving me with little opportunity for my own favored brand of escapism, I'm still on the lookout for new material, and thankfully, I'm still able to find it. Here's what I managed to find this week! 


FOR MY KINDLE



Pivot Point by Kasie West
I love following book bloggers on Twitter for many, many reasons, one of which is their ability to alert me to super cool deals on Amazon, including this hot YA title for only $1.99.

City of Mirrors (A Diana Poole Thriller) by Melodie Johnson Howe
A sophisticated and stylized Hollywood-set drama, involving aging starlet Diana Poole and the recently-discovered-deceased female lead of her new movie. Sounds like a cute, clipped thriller, and it's written by someone who worked in Hollywood, herself.

Real Happy Family: A Novel by Caeli Wolfson Widger
One of the Kindle First novels for February, this novel promises some really interesting concepts: flawed characters, a tumultuous family dynamic, and the precarious glitter of modern-day fame.

FROM VARIOUS FAMILY MEMBERS



Blasphemy by Sherman Alexie (from Dad)
Growing up in Washington, especially next door to Puyallup, you gain a pretty good appreciation for Native American culture, and after a junior year reading assignment for The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, that included becoming a huge fan of Sherman Alexie as well.

Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton (from Mom)
Yeah, it's more of a coffee table book than an actual book, but I'm a huge fan of this photojournalism project, and I'm happy to support it, so when my mom told me she got it from a friend from work, I snapped up the chance to have a go at it first.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (from my sister)
My younger sister, The Ballerina, decided to start reading Rainbow Rowell before I was able to make that decision for myself, and now we're both fans. So now that she and her other middle school friends have all passed this copy around, her older sister finally gets a crack at it.

What's in your haul this week?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Bundled Up With a Book: How to Survive the Chilly Weather

{Found this on Pinterest this morning, and no amount of web sleuthing could find me a source... well, whoever had this clever sign posted outside their door, it's a good one! Congrats on your untitled Internet fame, fellow bookworm.} 

So, from what I gather from news outlets around the country, everything's a bit chilly right now, isn't it? I mean, when you live in Washington, and people are having even worse of a time with the weather than you are, it's a little extreme. Even here, we're in temperatures below freezing, without the novelty and aesthetic benefit of snow to even stall our shivering. You'd think that living in a house with over 100 people would result in some fun penguin huddles... but no. In fact, my sojourn home from college for the weekend is at least partially motivated by the fact that my house actually has central heating. 

While the rest of the country moans and groans, at least us bookworms can relish the abysmal weather as yet another reason to stay inside, curl up with a good book, and spend the day in a book-bound land far away. Then again, sometimes there are days when you maybe need to take a little break from books... whether its a book hangover or just lack of material, it's occasionally a good idea to take a vacation from your favorite form of brain vacations. But then, what are you supposed to do on chilly days like this? 

Here's some smart ideas on how to capitalize on the cold, and have a successful bookish day indoors! 


Make yourself a little book mascot! (and be careful in your choice of books, please: thrift store novels that are falling apart already are best!) 

Amp up an old scarf with your favorite quote! I've made these for my sister and for my Greek family for all sorts of occasions, and they're always a big hit! 

Personalize a favorite hardcover with an under-cover surprise (like Team Epic Reads did with Ignite Me on this week's episode of Tea Time)!

One can never have too many bookmarks, right? Take some inspiration from around the web for a new set! 


Or maybe you're looking to add some new material to your Goodreads TBR lists...


However you choose to spend your time indoors this weekend, here's to books, hot beverages, and a nice warm blanket! Happy reading! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Review: Cinder

Time for a confession: I am just one of those people who is naturally averse to hype. If something is lauded as just a wonderful, spectacular piece of writing - if it's going to change your world, and be something you pass on to everyone you know - something whose bookshelf is not so much an indicator of its worth, but simply a training grounds within which the novel tested its mettle against other novels to become the champion of all bookdom... then there's no way I'm going to read it. 

I'll get around to it eventually, but I sure won't read it when all people are giving me is that it's going to rock me like a wagon wheel. I'll timidly approach a couple of well-thumbed copies at the library or somewhere, and take a glance at what every else felt was so earth-shattering. And, more often than not, when I do eventually get around to reading these special books, I end up enjoying them. And sometimes - though rarely, but sometimes - I buy into the hype. And when I buy into it, I buy wholesale, and in bulk. Costco-sized hype.

In Marissa Meyer's Cinder, the first novel in the Lunar Chronicles series, we meet Cinder, a cyborg mechanic working to support her evil stepmother and family in New Beijing. With little knowledge of her past, and only a hope for improving her future through her own mechanics skills, a choice encounter with Prince Kai and a brush with a fatal disease is enough to send Cinder's precarious life into a tailspin, involving intergalactic warfare, forbidden love, and a terrible secret within the inner workings of the empire. To save those she cares about most, Cinder must first come to terms with her own self, and her past.

First of all, Cinder's a total bad-ass, but in a lovable, fun, relatable-which-makes-it-all-the-more-heartbreaking-when-people-totally-suck kind of way. She is, honestly, just the kind of lead female characters I totally love to see, with a backbone, fierce loyalty, an open mind, a giving heart by nature, and a strong sense of self. In fact, she reminded me a little of Kaylee, from Firefly. Or maybe a cross between Kaylee and Katniss Everdeen... yeah. That's perfect.

So, beyond how wonderful it is to have the kind of heroine I haven't really seen since Tamora Pierce's Aly from the Trickster's books, Cinder had a lot more backing the story up, including excellent world-building skills, which are totally vital when you're trying to make a futuristic science fiction novel that balances the technological prowess of a master mechanic, living in a world with hyper-stylized machinery and architecture, with the already-present factor of a fairy tale's fanciful storytelling. Luckily, Meyer does an impeccable job with crafting the city of New Beijing, marrying Asian cultural icons with a futuristic slant and rounding it all out with an advanced colony of super-humanoids living on the moon. Love it.

And, of course, I'd be completely remiss without noting that Meyer is, all over, pretty stupendous for the YA genre, as well. Not only is she a master world-builder, but she rocks at constructing fast-paced, yet no less involving plots, made sure that all of the pieces that were moving at once never got lost or convoluted, populated her world with dynamic and engaging characters, and did it all in a way that was fun to read. She had me so caught up in the novel itself, that for a while, I even forgot it was inspired by a fairy tale, and when those sort of self-referential moments caught up with the plot, I was mightily impressed. Very good work!

All in all, I think that if you're into YA, and even the least bit into sci fi, and especially a little bit into fairy tales, you should definitely give this one a shot, because it definitely did it's job living up to the hype!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Swan Gondola

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that gives bloggers the opportunity to highlight upcoming releases about which they are extremely excited. 

This week, I'm getting pumped for a release that's coming out really, really, really soon... tomorrow, actually! Detailing the transformative romance between a con man and a mysterious woman named Cecily, set against the vivid turn-of-the-century backdrop of the 1898 Omaha World's Fair, here is The Swan Gondola by Timothy Schaffert, set to debut February 6th

Billed towards those who have a passion for the circus-style setups of Water for Elephants and The Night Circus, The Swan Gondola uses the gritty, fast-paced development of the burgeoning city of Omaha at the dimming of the 19th century as a focal point for a magical whirlwind romance, as a ventriloquist con man named Ferret Skerritt falls in love with the enigmatic actress across the way, who reenacts Marie Antionette's tragic beheading for the stage every day, only to disappear into the crowds of the dusty city at the close of the midway. Carrying only her mysterious carpetbag and not speaking a word to the besotted admirer, Skerrit is desperate to find a way to catch Cecily's eye. However, after a moonlight whirl on the lagoon in one of the Exposition's swan-shaped gondolas, the magic of the Fair will change this blossoming relationship just like it will revolutionize the budding metropolis of Omaha, and nothing will be the same. 

Why I'm excited? 
Because the official blurb on their Goodreads page has all of the key words I never knew I needed in it: Wild West, scandalous burlesques, midnight seances, etc. And the leading player of the story is described as a "ventriloquist by trade, con man by birth," which, for whatever reason, has me suddenly imagining Flynn Rider with one of those creepy dummies from The Twilight Zone, and if that doesn't sound intriguing to you, I don't know what sort of magic it takes to peak your interest. 

Regardless, it's a romantic read with interesting characters and an imaginative story line set in an unfamiliar setting, and I'm super pumped. I know what I'll be spending my Valentine's Day with! (And I mean that in a very enthusiastic and excited way!) 

What novels are you waiting on this Wednesday? 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Made Me Cry

"Top Ten Tuesday" is a weekly countdown meme, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish



You guys. I just did a post reviewing The Fault in Our Stars where I talked about how little books can make me cry, and now we've got an entire "Top Ten Tuesday" post dedicated to making me relive painful memories? How could you, I mean, really. Get your lifeboats ready, ladies and gents, because here comes the flood. 

JOHN GREEN IS MEAN
(and also, you know, gives voice to dreams, fears, and inhibitions that young adults need and want to hear, and stuff)
1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green 
That one just hurt. HURT, hurt. 
2. Looking for Alaska by John Green 
Taking it from experience, now, having one of your friends die is one of the worst things that can ever possibly happen to you, so don't read this book unless you want to know what that feels like. 

WHY DO I LOVE YOU ANYWAYS
Series that will always have a place in my heart, but did a fair amount of ripping it out of my chest to do so.
3. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
GOD DAMMIT SARAH, I love you, but you know what you did. Anyone who read the book knows what I'm talking about. 
4. Harry Potter and the Sadness That Consumes the Entire Damn Series Once the Stuff Hits the Fan in Book 5
We're not even going to talk about how woefully unprepared my untested mettle was for the marathon of torment that came from reading the tail end of this series. And just to keep from embarrassing myself further, we won't mention the movies, either. 

THIS IS FOR CHILDREN???
Let it be here stated that in each of these cases, a well-qualified librarian actually let me check these things out, without warning me of the tragedy that would befall me and my uncultured soul beforehand.
5. The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Peterson
Well, let me now avoid all rope swings for the rest of my life. 
6. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
In a blindingly apparent brush with conformity in my more formative years, I tried to get into books with animals in them. BIG mistake. 

THE NAZIS SUCK AND I HATE THEM
I mean, duh, self-explanatory, and hence the reason why any and all books about WWII are to be avoided at all costs. 
7. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
I don't think I can come up with a good reason for me thinking this was a children's book, but I read it in one morning before fencing practice in the seventh grade, and let's just say that my parry was a bit impaired that day. 
8. The Diary of Anne Frank
No matter how extraordinarily precocious you think your third grade daughter is, do not, DO NOT, let her do a biographical book report about Anne Frank. She will lose it completely in front of her class, and it will not be okay. 

WHY DIDN'T I JUST SEE THE MOVIE
9. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Inequality really, really sucks, guys. 
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky 
I actually went on recommending this one to my sister, The Cheerleader, so what kind of big sister does that make me, anyways? 

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TEN? 

Big Screen Books: Much Ado About Nothing

"Big Screen Books" is a blogging series where I discuss adaptations of some of my favorite literary works, whether through movies or television. My previous installment of "BSB" covered BBC's Emma miniseries! 

Something many people know about me is that I'm a bit of a Shakespeare fan, and just in case you didn't know that, my 4.0 in last Spring's "Shakespeare Post 1603" class might give you a bit of a hint, as well. But lighthearted bragging aside, the Bard is, without a doubt, the Best, especially when it comes to capturing the truth, joy, bitterness, tragedy, and subtleties of human life. I have enjoyed pursuing his iconic works throughout my reading experience, from  an obsession with Romeo and Juliet in elementary, to Hamlet in senior year, and The Tempest in college. I even did a College Fashion post on a couple of his works!

So, when Joss Whedon chose to forsake the big budget of his normal blockbuster films and spend his wind-down time coming off of The Avengers to film a low-budget Shakespearean adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing in his own home, in black and white, using primarily the original Old English dialogue, you can bet I was all there with a bag of popcorn in hand. Thank goodness I had my Dad to share the popcorn with, too.

For those not intimately acquainted with one of Old Will's less widely-known, but no less gifted, comedic works, Much Ado About Nothing begins with the convergence of two notable couples, in the sparring and witty Benedick and Beatrice, and the young and naive Claudio and Hero. Whereas Benedick and Beatrice's journey is one from antagonistic put-downs to being tricked into confessing their love for each other, Claudio and Hero's is much less the typical fodder of romance: after the scheming effects of Don John, Cladio believes Hero to be unfaithful, and publicly humiliates her, leading to an unfair disavowal upon her from her father, and, at the advice of the intervening friar, the charade that Hero has actually died of a broken heart in the aftermath. Will their friends' scheming push Beatrice and Benedick together? Will Claudio ever learn the truth about Hero's virtue? Are we going to get a wedding by the end of this piece? 

You can bet that the answer to all of those questions is a resounding "yes," and it's not even worthy of a spoiler alert, because this play came out in the 16th century.

The transposition of the classic Shakespearean work - and it's associated, and highly antiquated themes of ownership, marriage, and justice for wounded women - into the modern world was one I had originally assumed would be a bit rougher than it was. It actually translated quite well, I think, and I feel a lot of it had to do with the almost self-referential antiquity of shooting the film in black-and-white (which, in itself, was actually an attempt at keeping costs of costuming and lighting to a minimum, so good decision-making all around). It was a little retro, while still keeping things modern, and it managed to get by with only minor alterations to literature by demonstrating major plot changes through action and visuals, instead of messing with the text itself.

I think what it really came down to, as well, was the fact that Joss Whedon made this movie, and I look to him not only for such interesting and notable endeavors in plot and subject matter, but also for new views in altering the pre-existing dynamics of movie conventions, like what he did here, bringing Shakespeare out of it's comfortable time frame, into the realm of black-and-white cinema, and even then, dousing it with a fair hit of the modern.

And, we can't forget to mention his loyal stables of incredibly gifted actors... believe it or not, it actually took me several days after viewing the film to figure out that Benedick was Wesley Wyndham-Price from Buffy and Beatrice was Fred from Angel ('cause I'm oblivious, that's why). And, for all my Dollhouse (and Cabin in the Woods, holla) fans, Fran Kanz is adorably affable - as he always is - as lovelorn Claudio, so, there's him, too. And, of course, the incomparable Nathan Fillion makes an appearance, but that stupendous man needs no introduction, really.

In total, Much Ado About Nothing was an intelligent and intriguing take on a classic comedy, transposed into a not-so-likely time period with finesse and exuberance. For fans of Joss Whedon, this is well-worth viewing, and for fans of Shakespeare, you've probably already seen it. Watch it again.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

SEAHAWKS WIN THE SUPER BOWL!!!

{Straight from ABC News (who took the best of the approximately million or so versions of this picture, of the incomparable Pete Carroll being celebratorily doused with Gatorade at the conclusion of the historic game)}

SEATTLE REIGNS SUPREME AS THE SEAHAWKS TAKE THE ULTIMATE TITLE IN FOOTBALL WITH A THIRTY-FIVE POINT LEAD, FINAL SCORE 43-8! GO SEAHAWKS, AND WHAT A GREAT SEASON!