Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta is an intriguing dual story about a dozen intersected lives.

The dual story lines are rather confusing at the beginning of the novel, but eventually they begin to separate into two distinct stories right about the same time that they begin to interweave with each other.

This is one of my friend's favorite books--like most favorite book of all time--so there was, y'know, hardly any pressure when I was reading this. And at first, I didn't really like it, so I was worried about having to tell her. However, it did begin to draw me in. I enjoy tortured characters and oh boy is Jellicoe Road full of them. It was a little tricky to learn the Australian slang. I had a few moments where I had to reread the lines a couple times to figure out what was going on.

Overall, I quite enjoyed it. It didn't jump onto my favorite books list, but it was very touching.

Favorite Quotes: "Is a person worth more because they have someone to grieve for them?"
"So why would I want someone to be my everything when one day they might not be around? What will be left of me then?"

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Hello Lovelies!! 

So this week is a fill-in-the-blank week and the topic is Top Ten Books if you liked X. 

I'm going to use a few of my favorite shows so this is a bit of a getting to know me week as well.

If you like...

Gossip Girl (as a TV show or a book) then try ... Pretty Little Liars! (Mystery and Girl World!)
Community then try... Hyperbole and a Half. (LAUGHS. Oh god, I got a side ache from laughing.)
Breaking Bad then try...The Knife of Never Letting Go (Now trust me on this. Who's a good guy? Who's a bad guy? Why are the good guys acting like bad guys?? It's all about the character development on this one.)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer then try... Vampire Academy. (Sassy girls and vampires. Sure in one the sassy girls are killing vampires and in the other they're protecting them, but over all it's quite similar.)
Warm Bodies (the movie) then try...Reboot (zombies maybe plus feelings!)
Pride & Prejudice (the movie or the book) then try...Wuthering Heights (just don't expect a happy ending on this one!)
Toy Story then try...The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (toys with thoughts and feelings!)
Fanboys then try...Fangirl! (especially if you enjoy both Star Wars and Harry Potter).
Charlie Bartlett then try...Jellicoe Road (teens getting into trouble)
The Great Gatsby (the movie or the book) then try..Vixen (Roaring '20s!)

So this isn't the most visually appealing post, but what do you think of the content? Did I make you want to try a new book? Or maybe a new movie? Let me know in the comments!

Hello Lovelies!

I'm applying for a scholarship through Direct TV that requests I write a blog post about my favorite type of technology. And let met tell you guys, the internet is it. But Hayley! I can hear you protesting. That's not really a type of technology! Surely they didn't mean the internet. Well, lovelies, I'm taking my stance. The Internet is by far my favorite type of technology. If I was writing on a piece of papyrus with my own blood and it was still going into the internet and I could see other things coming out of the internet, I would be happy.

I love connecting with others. I love meeting friends around the world through what we have in common. I've been making friends through the internet since probably seventh grade. I had a few pets on Neopets. I had a fanfiction account on I had a Myspace page before most others at my school had heard of Myspace. My parents have always been concerned about the amount of time I spend on the internet, but as I'm now an adult on my own, I still spend way too much time on the internet.

I love the internet because I can learn things. Just today, I learned about the process picture book artists go through in creating their works. I can learn how people of different backgrounds experience life. I mean, the internet is a lot like books in that way. Books are knowledge embodied--the internet is knowledge freely available. Or at least as free as an internet connection. With thanks to places like public libraries and schools can often be completely free.

The internet is my sanctuary. When I've had a bad day, I know I can get online and explore the world. I can find out what's happening in Europe and Asia and Africa and South America. I can delve into things I'm passionate about: tv shows, books and art. I can listen to music and write words which I know others will read. The internet helps people feel less alone--myself included.

I'm excited to continue using the internet in my adventures in Graduate School! One of the major ways I'll be using the internet is through this blog. As an avid consumer of young adult literature, I made this blog for my own reasons, but since I'll be pursuing young adult literature in academia as well, this blog will be have dual purposes. I'm intrigued to see if I look at books in the same way while I'm in graduate school as I do now. I'm grateful that I'll have this log of my thoughts and feelings to refer back to. I'm glad that the internet will give me a pseudo-diary to reflect with.

The internet may be a broad kind of technology to choose, but I stand by my opinion. It may be a technology we're becoming more accustomed to in society--it's accessible through nearly every bit of stand alone tech: phones, computers, kindles and tablets. However, what would these technologies be without the power of the internet?

Monday, April 28, 2014

I only got 22 pages in to this book before deciding it wasn't for me. I just didn't feel any sort of connection. And since I'm sort of trying to make my way through as many books of mine I can in the next three months, I don't have time for a book I don't connect with. I'm kind of bummed because I really enjoyed Showalter's Lords of the Underworld series.

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire is the first New Adult genre book I've read.

I was a little surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did! I was expecting it to be a little too heavy on the romantic build-up and too light on the actual relationship bit, but McGuire does a pretty fair job of balancing the two.

I did read it in two days, so I was obviously caught up in the story, but I don't feel like I have a lot to say about it.

I didn't like the ending. Like at all. I thought it was terrible.

But I would definitely recommend this book to someone looking for a light read that gives you butterflies.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Selection by Kiera Cass is a fantastic mix of a falling in love story and political intrigue.

When I first heard of this book, I thought it would be similar to Ally Condie's Matched which I didn't particularly enjoy. However, I'm not gonna lie--the cover got to me. I kept seeing it around and it's such a great cover!! I found out my friend owned a copy, and she agreed to loan it to me. I really enjoyed it!

I'm a little surprised I liked it as much as I did because it's frequently compared to The Bachelor (a show I don't really like) and The Hunger Games (which I loved! but couldn't see how this could be similar). I can definitely see the similarity to The Bachelor but not so much to the Hunger Games. I think the only reason it's compared to the Hunger Games is that it's set in a dystopian future United States. Other than that the similarities are frankly non-existent (or I guess the fact that she's selected from a "random" drawing?).

I knew it was going to be a love triangle based story, and it's not an entirely unnecessary love triangle. Cass sets up the story so it makes sense. America has already given her heart to her neighbor Aspen, but they're of two separate castes and that matters in Illea. America is sent a letter to apply for the Selection--a process by which the Prince will choose his future spouse. The women chosen to participate are each paid per day that they are part of the process and America's family is in a low enough caste that they can use the money. Aspen also encourages America to sign up because he thinks she'd regret it otherwise. Aspen and America end up fighting the day before the drawing, so when America is chosen--they've broken up. This leaves America free to develop feelings for Prince Maxon when he enters the book.

Frankly my only problem with the book was the extreme heteronormativity. I mean, Aspen gets upset because America "provided" for him and that's a "man's" job and it's irksome to say the least. I know the set-up of the novel is 35 girls and 1 man, but come on, at least mention the fact that there are other routes to love than man and woman.

Overall, I'm excited to read the next book and find out what happens, but I wasn't devoted to the story.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Perfect by Sara Shepard is a great addition to the Pretty Little Liars story line.

Perfect sees us rejoining Aria, Hanna, Emily and Spencer after they believe A has died. They aren't being harassed by texts, and their lives, while still on rocky ground, seem to be turning around. Of course, that relief doesn't last long.

I find it really hard to review these books because I don't want to ruin any surprises. And these books just pack surprises in at every chapter. I love this series. I  devour the books--and while they might not be literary genius--frankly I don't ever see a line that I think ooooh I got to mark that line--the books are entertaining.

I can't wait to read number 4!

Prequel Sequel Challenge Points: 32 + 2 = 34!

Friday, April 18, 2014

TW: self-harm

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn was definitely a novel outside of my normal reading habits. Camille Preaker is the protagonist of this novel--she's a cutter who recently finished a stay at a mental health institution. She's gone back to work and as one of her first major assignments, she's sent back to her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri. There's been two little girl murdered and Camille's editor wants to be the first "major" newspaper in on the story.

Camille does not have a good relationship with her family. Frankly, Camille does not have a good relationship with herself. She's stopped cutting, but she's turned to alcoholism instead. Camille has no respect for her own body--I mean, I am all for doing what you want with your own body, but only when it isn't a choice made with a self-destructive intent. Camille takes drugs and sleeps with people with the intent to hurt her own body.

I wasn't a fan of Sharp Objects. I didn't really understand where it was going at first but then the ending seemed obvious as it approached. I felt like all the women characters were the worst representations of women ever. Like there isn't a single kind woman in the entire book. There are a lot of women characters which I support, but they are all terrible people. They all reinforce the stereotype that women are bitches and that women are extra bitches to each other. I don't like that.

Maybe if you like mysteries and aren't particularly focused on how women are represented in media, you might enjoy this book.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Monster Calls is another example of Patrick Ness' magnificent as a writer. Ness begins the book with an introduction stating that the idea for this novel came from (sadly now deceased) Siobhan Dowd.

The book centers around Conor, a young boy whose mother is slowly dying from cancer. He's visited by a monster in the middle of the night, but Conor is not afraid. He's afraid of a different monster but one who he refuses to talk about. The new monster is the yew tree in his backyard--Cernunnos who in traditional Celtic lore is a symbol of nature and animals, but I think Ness was probably referring to the Neopaganism view of Cernunos as a symbol of the cycle of life, death and rebirth.

Cernunnos tells Conor that he will tell Conor three stories and after that Conor will tell him a story. Each story reflects a situation occurring in Conor's own life. Conor is the only one who can see his monster, so the people around him think he's reacting more or less typically to his mother's illness. Conor's actions become more extreme as the monster's stories continue.

This is the first book so far to win both the Carnegie Medal for literature and the Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration. I would recommend it to people who love stories that tear their heart apart.

Favorite Quotes: "Who am I? the monster repeated, still roaring. I am the spine that the mountains hang upon! I am the tears that the rivers cry! I am the lungs that breathe the wind! I am the wolf that kills the stag, the hawk that kills the mouse, the spider that kills the fly! I am the stag, the mouse, and the fly that are eaten. I am the snake of the world devouring its tail! I am everything untamed and untameable! It brought Conor up close to its eye. I am this wild earth, come for you, Conor O'Malley."
"Conor frowned, and for a second the whole room seemed to get darker, for a second it felt like the whole house was shaking, for a second it felt like he could reach down and tear the whole floor right out of the dark and loamy earth--"
"Stories were wild, wild animals and went off in directions you couldn't expect."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Reboot by Amy Tintera is an exciting new look at a genre I had written off.

Let's face it--sometimes we have things. Like y'know, things that we love (vampires!) and things that we dislike (zombies ughhh) but occasionally there will be exceptions to those rules. Reboot is definitely an exception to my general rule.

But let me be honest. Reboot isn't your typical zombie story. There's a startling lack of braaainnss and a surprising surplus of human emotions. Really, the only zombie like bit of Reboot is the fact that all the "reboots" died and then came back some time later.

Reboots are supposedly victims of a disease which infects the living humans and then--if they're young--brings them back to life after they've succumbed to it. Adult reboots aren't allowed. They're killed on-site, apparently crazy. But even without "adults" reboots have a sense of hierarchy. Those that were dead longest have the most seniority, and Wren-178 is by far the longest dead. She believes herself to be removed from humans. She is better: stronger, faster, less likely to be taken out thanks to her superior healing ability. But she also feels like she's less than them--less human. Then a new batch of reboots arrives including Callum-22. He has an embarrassingly low number. Barely even dead before he came back, he's practically human by reboot standards. But Wren begins to feel something for Callum. And she begins making choices she didn't think she would.

The thing I liked most about Reboot was the concept of one person making a difference. It takes Callum for Wren to start questioning her life, but once she begins to pull apart the layers, she can see the hole in the seams of her world. And it's not Callum who provides the most incentive for Wren, it's her best friend, Ever-56.

Overall, I guess what draws me into Reboot is the distinct lack of zombie-ness. I love humanity, even in the afterlife.

Favorite Quotes: "I was. I am. [...] Yours."
"I thought it was more embarrassing to not be able to cry at all."

Hello Lovelies! It's been a zany few weeks for me so I'm just jumping back in as best I can. And this TTT (as always hosted by the Broke and the Bookish) is one of my favorites! I adore books, but I'm a fangirl at heart, and I love things related to books almost as much as the books themselves! So without further ado, here's a round-up of Ten Things Book Related Which I Would Like to Own

THIS super cool book weight which is clear--meaning you can read through it--and capable of holding down pages on a sunny but breezy day. And hey--for only 20$ I might actually invest in this someday!!

Why WOULDN'T I want a snitch necklace? This particular version is available here on Etsy and it's currently on sale! In case anyone's looking for gifts for my August birthday ;)

Not to over load you guys with my devotion to HP, but come on, who wouldn't find this shirt inspiring?? There's lots of other great options at their website.

A tea blend to go with my book! I'm a big fan of Adagio Tea as a company. See if you can track down your favorite fandom!

I don't typically use book ends because I jam my shelves plum full, but if I did, I'd love this version from the Literary Gift Company.

This combo is exactly what I need when I'm wrapped up in a fantastic world (especially if it's one that's going to make me cry!)
Sometimes (usually when I'm writing my reviews) I want something that will hold my book open for me and prop it so I can actually refer to it as I'm typing. This looks like the perfect solution.
Since I got into my grad program, one day I could have a real librarian pin, but until that time I just have to settle with getting this pin and presiding over all the books I own. 
Frankly, I want nothing more than my own card catalog drawer set. I've seen them before at antique malls, and it makes me so sad and I want one so badly but I'm moving too much to get a nice piece of furniture like that. Instead, I might have to settle for this cardboard drawer replica -- which also comes with 30 replicated cards!

This library card catalog pouch is the coolest thing I've seen recently! It'd be perfect to use as a little wallet or a make-up bag!

Well Lovelies, what do you think? What book related item are you dying to add to your belongings?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Another Books Read Round-Up

The Dragons of Blueland by Ruth Stiles Gannett is the last book in the My Father's Dragon trilogy. This book follows the newly released baby dragon home where he finds that his parents and siblings have been backed into a cave by some human hunters. Boris (YES THE BABY DRAGON'S NAME IS BORIS. I might have squealed a little bit by how cute that was when I read it) returns to his friend Elmer to get help in releasing his family.

I loved this series. It's quick but delightful. Elmer is inventive and caring and a great role model for kids. I can definitely see myself reading this to any future children in my own life. I'm keeping my entire set of the series.

Middle Grade March Count: 19
Prequels and Sequel challenge: +2 and +10 for completing a series = 32 points total!

Who was Ferdinand Magellan by Sydelle Kramer is an excellent middle grade biography. It follows Ferdinand Magellan's life from birth to death, although it primarily focuses on his desire to travel the world and his eventual voyage. 

I've been having lots of kids asking about this series recently which is why I picked this one up. I can definitely see the appeal! It's got a lot of facts (although I'll admit to being a little leary about trusting the facts too much) and gorgeous art work. I'd say one of the few drawbacks is that there aren't any actual photos in it--just drawings. I think these provide an excellent introduction to historical events through the eyes of important individuals. 

I really enjoyed it!

Middle Grade March Count: 20

Harriet Tubman Secret Agent by Thomas Allen was a very interesting compendium of history around the Civil War primarily through the life and actions of Harriet Tubman. This one is a little more difficult for young children -- it comes across as a little more dense than the "Who was" biographies. I'd be interested to read the "Who was Harriet Tubman" for comparison's sake. 

I really thought Allen did a much better job of documenting his facts, however. There was a bibliography and footnote appendix at the back of the book which I appreciated. Allen also covers a lot of events of the Civil War, not just things that are directly related to Tubman, but those that are also indirectly related. 

Over all, I feel like I learned a lot from the book, but it wasn't quite as enjoyable as other nonfiction choices.

Middle Grade March Count : 21