Regular Rumination

Quotes & Notes: Lexicon by Max Barry

Posted by in Books, Quotes & Notes

lexicon

 

Quotes: 

“That’s bullshit! I loved Cecilia!”
“If you say so.”
“I’m being lectured about love by a robot! I’m broken? You’re broken! Tell me what you think love is! I seriously want to know!”
“Okay,” Eliot said. “It’s defining yourself through the eyes of another. It’s coming to know a human being on a level so intimate that you lose any meaningful distinction between you, and you carry the knowledge that you are insufficient without her every day for twenty years, until she drives an animal transport at you, and you shoot her. It’s that.”
Wil watched the road awhile.
“I”m sorry I called you broken,” Eliot said.
“Forget it.”
“Everyone’s broken,” Eliot said, “one way or another.”

Notes: 

Reading the descriptions of Lexicon, and there have been a lot of them because this book was everywhere a few months ago, I thought it would be the kind of book that would be difficult to get into. I was pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t, not even a little bit. It grabs you and speeds along from page one as you slowly piece together this strange world where words have an almost magical power.

And that’s part of the fun – piecing together the story and how it will fit together in the end, so I won’t tell you too much. There is a mysterious school and a sinister organization run by “poets,” people who take on the names of famous poets throughout history who wield the power of words. Poets must control every aspect of their personality so they can’t be controlled or “compromised” by their words. Showing emotions, desires, wants reveals your inner thoughts and feelings. There is a poet named Eliot who is on the run along with Wil, a man who can’t be controlled by the words, which makes him dangerous to the poets. Finally there is Emily, a drifter and con artist who has nothing to lose and so attends the school, even though she thinks it must be too good to be true, but who does the worst thing you can possibly do there: she falls in love.

Lexicon feels fresh and different, it feels like a smart book that doesn’t take itself too seriously. I think if I had any complaints about the story it’s that sometimes the world-building felt a little bit on the weaker side, especially if you’re used to reading more complex science fiction and fantasy. I really wanted to know more about the intricate structures of the organization, how the words worked, and what other sinister acts the organization was getting up to. Max Barry is an author I can’t wait to read more from, though. It sounds like his other books, like Jennifer Government and Machine Man, have that same combination of plot-driven satire with sci-fi elements. I certainly wouldn’t complain if he decided to write another book set in the world of Lexicon. Just throwing that thought out into the world!

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Quotes & Notes: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Posted by in Books, Quotes & Notes

daughter

 

QUOTES

The real world, already a distant thing – just a crackle of fireworks at horizon’s edge – faded away entirely. A high, sweet thrill sang through Madrigal as if she were a lute string. Akiva took off his gloves and dropped them, and when he touched her, fingertips trailing up her arms and neck, it was with his bare hands. He reached behind her head, untied her mask, and lifted it away. Her vision, which had been narrowed all night to what she could see through its small apertures, opened, and Akiva filled her sight, still wearing his comical mask. She heard his soft exhalation and murmur of “so beautiful,” and she reached up and took off his disguise.

“Hello,” she whispered, as she had when they had come together in the Emberlin and happiness had bloomed in her. That happiness was like a spark to a firework, compared with what filled her now.

NOTES

I am smitten. I read this book on planes and trains and buses and, yes, sometimes this story was enough to distract me from beautiful rolling hills and glorious mountain countrysides. It’s the kind of book that benefits from having no knowledge going into it. All you really need to know is that it’s a magical, tragic story about an artist in Prague with blue hair and mysterious tattoos.

Laini Taylor’s writing style is so evocative and has poetic flourishes that I just devoured. I am sad that it took me this long to read – I kept confusing it with Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, which I liked, but oh, I loved this one so much more. I’m in awe of Taylor’s imagination and the world she created in Daughter of Smoke & Bone. My heart was Taylor’s puppet: it sang when she wanted it to and broke on command.

I never wanted it to end. I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley, I suppose so they could hook a new reader in advance of the publication of the third book, and I just wanted everyone at Netgalley and Little, Brown to know: your scheme worked. I have already purchased the second book, I’ll be purchasing the first to have in my physical collection, and I’m sure the third will not be far behind.

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Quotes & Notes: girlchild by Tupelo Hassman

Posted by in Books, Quotes & Notes

girlchild

QUOTES

The letters are sitting right here, bound in dirty string so they can’t come open too easily, so they can’t steal my nights as I look for secrets in their creases. Mama developed Grandma’s preference for onionskin paper too, and felt-tip, I wait for this to happen to me, I’m certain it will. The only way to tell the difference between Mama’s letters and Grandma’s at first glance is that Mama’s stay bundled up so tight the string rips into their pages and Grandma’s are loose and open, all over this table. I keep Mama’s letters closed, keep their edges close together like a cut that needs force to heal. I’m all wrapped up in there, jumbled with her, small i‘s and slashes, her story in my story at every turn. (70)

NOTES

Oh, girlchild. I finished reading this book earlier this afternoon, but I don’t know how I felt about it. Rory Dawn Hendrix has grown up in the Calle, a trailer park in a town north of Reno, and all she wants, all her mother and grandmother want, is to grow up and get out without making the same mistakes that the women in her family have made before her.

On the one hand, it’s hard to believe in Rory’s voice. On the other? The writing in this book is absolutely beautiful, with a lilt that makes the words sing in a way I find so appealing. This is the story of a lot of ugly things. About what it’s like to grow up poor. About what it’s like to be unable to escape the abuse that is rampant in your community. About what it’s like to want. It’s also about the beautiful things that can be found anywhere, even a place like the Calle. A mother’s love for her child. Hope when it seems impossible to do so. A patchwork carpet made from sample tiles from the carpet store, mismatched and lovely for it.

We bring home another stack of carpet pieces, outdated samples and remnants too short to sell, different-colored, different-styled, different-lengthed, and different-piled, and Mama gets down to it. She cuts the squares precise, the colors blending against the mortar and brick under the woodstove, against the frame of the door, and she mumbles through the nails she holds in her lips, murmurs about this green and that yellow while she hammers them in, and never after that does she ask for my help or advice, and I don’t offer anyway, and as the paydays roll past, our wall-to-wall becomes a reality.

Six pay stubs later and our living room is carpeted in the brightest blues, golds, and violets, patterned and deep. As she’s packing up her tools, Mama is all smiles and says, “See if you can pick a favorite, R.D. I bet you can’t.” I don’t think to question this until I walk across it in bare feet, sink into the plush of this square and that. I don’t think to question this until I imagine doing it myself, deciding what goes with which and making it permanent, believing in my choices enough to pound them with a hammer. (196)

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Quotes & Notes: While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell

Posted by in Books, Quotes & Notes

while beauty slept

 

QUOTES

Is it possible that ten years could pass as one? A single afternoon with Marcus could demand an hour’s telling: the feel of the sun on my face, the looks that passed between us, the things he said to make me blush. Yet I can recount the decade after our parting in a few words: My life carried on, unchanged. Within the castle, day followed day, month after month, the rituals of court unaltered by the passing of time. Yet beyond our walls the shadows gathered. The evil we had sought to hold off for so long swirled inexorably closer, spreading suspicion and panic in its wake. (241)

NOTES

A few of us at work have started a fairy tale/classic literature retellings book club, which sounds very specific, but it was after reading this post and after we all enjoyed While Beauty Slept. I also happened to be reading the Lunar Chronicles, which I’ll post about soon, so it’s turning into something of a themed reading month for me! If you’re interested in following along at home, the next book we’ll be reading for this book club is called Dark Companion by Marta Acosta, a retelling of Jane Eyre.

While Beauty Slept takes the story of Sleeping Beauty and puts it into a plausible historical context. It begins with Elise as an old woman, overhearing her great-granddaughter telling a story about a witch who casts a spell over a castle, filling it with sleeping sickness, until the princess is woken up by true love’s kiss. Elise, though, knows the true story, the real story of what happened and it has nothing to do with magic.

One of the best things about While Beauty Slept is seeing a fairy tale you know well in a new way. The book can drag on in parts, but it’s worth it to see how the tragedy of Rose, the beautiful princess, and her lady-in-waiting Elise plays out. I also loved that Elise is truly the main character, not just a witness to the “heroine’s” story. Elise herself is the heroine, a woman born of humble means, who uses her intelligence and honesty to become someone important to the queen and her daughter.

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Quotes & Notes: The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

Posted by in Books, Quotes & Notes

the orchardist

 

QUOTES

Riding in the herd, the sound like one constant, endless sigh; some horses frantic and others calm, some remembering some wrong done to them while others wanted only to sleep, and each struggling with hunger and thirst; some horses pregnant, others desperate to copulate; and all moved forward as one body amid the heat and the dust. The men and Della spaced out and caught among among them like ornaments in a blanket; like disparate thoughts fretting to cohere. The feeling that this would never end, being caught in the herd, heading east or north, west or south, moving for some purpose though that purpose was for the moment lost; the horses – the herd- carried the men at times more than the men guided them. The men were bound by time – they must reach the auction that evening, or the next day – and yet the riding among the horses through the landscape was endless and timeless, distanceless. It made some men – not the ones who were riding, but others, who lived elsewhere, employed in different occupations – desperate; it made Della sink down under the pressing weight of all that time, all that distance – for it was not deficit but surplus experienced between two destinations – and though she felt at times she could not move, because of the pressing weight, she also felt placed. Ensconced. Safe.

NOTES

The Orchardist is the kind of historical, lyrical novel that is appealing to me at the moment. It is a book that is executed beautifully, with lovely language that reflects the chaos of the horse herds and the quiet of the orchards in the same book. Talmadge, who lives alone at the apple and apricot orchard until sisters Della and Jane upend his life and leave him with a child, Angelene, is a quiet, stoic man, upended by the mysterious disappearance of his sister when they were teenagers. Later he is driven to do unthinkable things in the name of saving Della and leaving Angelene with something of a family, but most of the novel is spent in quiet contemplation of what to do with the life you are given.

Della, still damaged from her life before she escaped the unthinkable with Jane, leaves Angelene and Talmadge after Jane’s death, unable to cope with a life without movement. She travels from one job to the next, trying to blend into the world of men, trying to prove herself to be as strong, physical, daring as a man. Talmadge waits for her return, desperate for Della to want the life of the orchardist, bound by the seasons and by ties to the land and blood relations. Angelene, though, has written Della off, she is a memory. Angelene can’t understand why Talmadge would want to bother with Della and bringing her back, Talmadge can’t understand why Angelene wouldn’t want Della back in her life.

As much as I liked the majority of this novel, when the drama finally comes to a head and Talmadge attempts to rescue Della from the life she has chosen, I felt weary by the story and by Talmadge. He is blind to the women around him, only thinking instead of the women who have left him. I guess no novel can sit quietly in the happy parts of the story and I can’t help but wonder if this complaint reflects my current state of mind more than an actual technical weakness in the story, but I just wanted Talmadge to recognize what he had in the orchard. I wanted Della to be able to live the life she wanted without another man interfering. I wanted happiness for them both. But that doesn’t necessarily make a good story.

3

Comics February: Who Runs the World? Girls.

Posted by in Books, comic

awesome ladies

My comics reading has slowed down a bit the past week or so, just because I couldn’t get to the library with the bad weather and I read almost everything I had! But I got a nice new bag of comics to read for this, the (sadly!) last week of Comics February, but I’m pretty much planning on making this Comics 2014, so don’t worry, you’ll be seeing a lot more.

The theme for the past week has definitely been comics about amazing women, some by amazing women.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazaki - It was pretty much guaranteed that I would love this, but I haven’t seen the movie Nausicaa, so the mythology was completely new to me and, as usual, I was blown away. I have loved Miyazaki’s movies for practically my whole life. My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service were on high rotation throughout my childhood and I loved Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle as an adult. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind takes place well into the future, after the industrialized world has collapsed after a brutal war. Earth, destroyed by humanity’s negligence, fights back by producing plants that emit dangerous spores, creating entire swaths of the planet that are an uninhabitable waste known as the Sea of Corruption. Nausicaa is a princess from the Valley of the Wind and she holds the secret to the Sea of Corruption and is also the only leader her small nation has, so she must lead them into battle. I never wanted the first volume of Nausicaa to end and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series right away.

Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Guts (The New 52) by Brian Azzarello with art by Cliff Chiang, Tony Akins, and Dan Green - So. Wonder Woman. I read the first volume last year and I liked it, but it didn’t blow my mind. I liked this volume a little bit more, but then I got to reading reviews. Folks say that the changes mythology of Wonder Woman in this series is something they’re not happy about, but I don’t really know anything about Wonder Woman or her mythology, so I can’t say one way or the other. It’s so interesting to read blog posts on the changes in The New 52 and every comment is either that they love the changes to the new Wonder Woman or they hate them. After reading this and all the demands for a Wonder Woman movie, I’ll definitely be reading some older Wonder Woman comics to learn more.

Hilda & The Midnight Giant by Luke Pearson - Hilda lives in a world that on first glance looks a lot like our own, but after a few pages you realize that it definitely is not. There are invisible creatures who want Hilda and her mother to leave the cabin they live in immediately and there is a giant, mountain-sized giant, who seems to be waiting for something. One day, Hilda’s eyes are opened and she sees that the invisible creatures are actually the citizens of a tiny city. Hilda’s cabin just happens to sit right on top of it and Hilda herself is the giant terrorizing the invisible town. I loved Hilda, I loved the art in this comic, and I adored the world building. It’s just the kind of comic that makes you smile.

Marbles by Ellen Forney - I talked in length about Marbles and Calling Dr. Laura over at BookRiot, so I won’t rehash everything I said there, but I did really love these two graphic memoirs. Marbles truly changed the way I look at mania and depression and what it means to be bipolar. Forney does an amazing job explaining what it is like to live as a bipolar artist. I think this is an important memoir, one that I’m so glad I read.

Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole J. Georges  – I wasn’t sure I was going to love this memoir. There were times when I felt like the story dragged on a little too long or I wasn’t really sure what the point was, but towards the end the enormity of what Georges was trying to understand about herself and her past really hit me. Plus, the art is downright beautiful and I’m obsessed with her lettering.

What comics did you read for Comics February this week?

5

Quotes & Notes: The Golem & The Jinni by Helene Wecker

Posted by in Books

golem

QUOTES: 

It took him nearly two hours to find the crate. Two hours of picking his way through stacks of suitcases and boxes bound with twine. His stomach burned and cold sweat dripped into his eyes. Finally he moved aside a rolled up carpet, and there it was: his crate. And in it, his bride.

[...] Heart pounding, he pulled the paper from his pocket and carefully sounded out the command “To wake the golem.” He held his breath and waited.

Slowly, the golem came to life. First to wake were her senses. She felt a roughness of wood under her fingertips. The cold damp air on her skin. She sensed the movement of the boat. She smelled mildew and the tang of seawater. She woke a little more and knew she had a body. The fingertips that felt the wood were her own. The skin that the air chilled was her skin. She moved a finger to see if she could. She heard a man nearby breathing. She knew his name and who he was. He was her master, her entire purpose. She was his golem, bound to his will. And right now, he wanted her to open her eyes.

The golem opened her eyes.

NOTES: 

Hooray for the first audiobook of 2014! Finding and recording my favorite quotes is a little bit harder when it comes to audiobooks. I’m not always thinking about language the same way I am when I am reading. Audible does have a bookmark feature where you can make a note, but I only bookmarked one section and, while it’s an important part of the book, I don’t think it’s the most beautiful or representative quote from the entire thing.

I liked this book very much, but I don’t have strong feelings about it. I think my favorite thing was the combination of traditions from Jewish folklore and Syrian folklore, but I was a little bit tired of this story by the end of it. It felt a little long, but I’m not sure I would have felt the same way if I were reading it instead of listening to it. I’m beginning to wonder if I really like audiobooks that are this long, but I’ve downloaded quite a few long ones with my most recent Audible credits, so we’ll see if this is a trend going forward.

If The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is the perfect book to remind you of summer and being outside, The Golem and the Jinni is the perfect book to wallow in winter in New York. I do love reading about the time period, turn of the century, especially turn of the century New York, and I would have loved even more details about the different communities and what the city looked like back then.

The narrator was good, but it felt like he read the book so slowly. I ended up with the audio on double speed pretty quickly.My very favorite parts of this novel were when the golem and the jinni would walk together through the city and discuss the strange humans they lived with. I never wanted it to end, but of course the plot had to keep moving and it did.

 

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Quotes & Notes: The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield

Posted by in Books

the homecoming of samuel lake

 

QUOTES: 

Every year, the day after school let out for summer, Samuel and Willadee would load up their kids and take off for south Arkansas. Willadee already had freckles everywhere the sun had ever touched, but she would always roll the window down and hang her arm out, and God would give her more. Her boisterous, sand-colored hair would fly in the breeze, tossing and tangling, and eventually she would laugh out loud, just because home made her feel so free.

Willadee loved this ritual. This once-a-year road trip, when she was snugged into the car with her good, healthy family – all of them fairly vibrating with anticipation. This was her time for thinking about where they’d been and where they might be going and how well the kids were growing in to their names – the names she’d given them as blessings when they were born. The first boy, she’d called Noble. Her clear call to the universe to infuse him with courage and honor. The younger son was Bienville. A good city, or as Willadee thought of it, a peaceful place. The girl, she had named Swan. Not because a swan is beautiful but because it is powerful. A girl needs power that she doesn’t have to borrow from anyone else, Willadee had thought. So far her blessings seemed to be working.

NOTES: 

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake has been sitting on my shelves for a long time. I’ve picked it up on occasion, reading the first chapter, but it always goes back. I don’t know what was different this time, but this novel and I just clicked. We had a right-book-right-person-right-time moment.

The language is the kind that you want to read out loud in a drawl and it felt lush and beautiful. This is a novel that oscillates between the happy and the sad, the small pains and joys of day to day life, and the bigger tragedies that mark each family’s trajectory in this world. I feel like I used the exact same sentence in my Quotes & Notes on Someone by Alice McDermott and maybe there is just something about this kind of novel that is speaking to me right now.

There are some horrible things that happen in this novel, truly horrible. I admit I was frustrated by the ending, when something life-altering happens in the last 20 pages, enough to write an entire second novel on how the characters dealt with the horror of it. Even with the ending, it’s a novel that I am happy I read and that I wanted to return to. It helps, too, that much of the novel takes place on a farm in the summertime and there was no better antidote to the endless days of snow.

I won a copy of The Homecoming of Samuel Lake in a contest held by the publisher.

4

One Week of Comics February

Posted by in Books

week 1

Here is the number one thing I am taking away from Comics February: there is literally no reason why I couldn’t read a comic a week. Seriously. I have enjoyed this past week so much in terms of what I have been reading. I’ve basically been listening to an audiobook during my morning commute (The Golem & the Jinni) and then bringing a comic to read on my way home. I’ve been keeping the longer ones one my nightstand to read a little bit more slowly before bed. This month has just been the perfect reminder that I love this form and I should make more time for it.

So how did the first week go? Mostly wonderful!

A Matter of Life by Jeffrey Brown - I’m going to start with my least favorite so we can just get it out of the way. I was expecting great things from A Matter of Life, which was compared to Blankets in its copy from the publisher. This is no blankets. It is the story of Brown being at odds with the religion he grew up in and what it is like to raise a child without religion, which is a story I am very much interested in, but the structure of this one ended up feeling very disjointed. It was interesting and the art was in Brown’s signature style, which I enjoy, but overall it just didn’t come together for me.

A Game for Swallows by Zeina Abirached - I’m pretty sure this comic is perfect. It is the story of one night in Beirut, Zeina and her brother are at home with a neighbor, their parents gone to visit their grandmother, when the bombing begins. Their entire building congregates in Zeina’s family’s foyer, because it is the safest room in the apartment. The black and white art, the integration of a tapestry that hangs on the wall in the foyer, and the economical story telling make this a comic that packs an emotional punch. Almost the entire comic takes place over one night, but the story feels so much bigger than that. Comparisons to Persepolis are inevitable here, but I had more of an emotional reaction to A Game for Swallows.

Sunny by Taiyo Matsumoto - I plan on rereading this one before I return it to the library. First, it’s just a beautiful book. It’s hardcover, the cover illustration and the interior pages that are in color are lovely, and the black and white panels are so detailed. I read this too quickly, I think. I just want to get lost in the world – remember what I said in my original post on Comics February? This won the superlative for “The Best Comic About Actual Human Beings With Actual Human Feelings God Dammit” and yes, because there is so much happiness and heartache in this story about a home for children with no where else to go.

Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang - These books were as good as promised. They present both sides of the Boxer Rebellion, but pulling on Chinese and Christian traditions to tell the story. In Boxers, Little Bao, angered by the way Christian invaders are treating his village, finds a way to fight back, by calling on the ancient gods to give him strength and power. In Saints, Four-Girl is unlucky from the moment she is born and never fits in, until she finds her way to a small Christian community in her village. Little Bao and Vibiana (the name she chooses for herself) eventually cross paths. I knew next to nothing about this time in history, so I’d really like to learn more about it. The art is colorful and if you’ve read Yang’s work before, you’ll recognize the style.

Jane, The Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault - Hélène one day has friends and the next they turn on her, in the fickle way kids can. It crushes Hélène’s self-esteem, though, and she moves through life trying to make as few waves as possible, retreating into Jane Eyre, until a school camping trip forces her to face her anxieties head on. I loved the pencil sketches that made up this comic and the incorporation of Jane Eyre and some color throughout. The story felt a little slight – I was expecting more depth. I did like the ending of this one, though.

Aya by Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie - I liked this comic about girls living in the Ivory Coast during 1978, but I’m looking forward to reading more in the series, since I didn’t quite connect with the characters this time around. I loved the style of the art and the colors and being transported to the Ivory Coast, but I wanted to spend more time with Aya. Hopefully I’ll get to know her a little bit better in future books.

Julio’s Day by Gilbert Hernandez - I read somewhere that this book was one day in each year of Julio’s life and it’s nothing of the sort. Maybe I misread something, but this is just the story of one family, over 100 years, beginning with Julio’s birth and ending with his death. It’s moving and somewhat surreal, and often confusing. One day I will read the entirety of the Love and Rockets series. One day!

Prime Baby by Gene Luen Yang - This is cute and funny and that’s really all you need to know.

Nothing Could Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks - Oh, I still love the way Faith Erin Hicks draws faces. They are just so expressive! This story was cute, about a robotics team and a cheer-leading squad who have to work together to raise enough money to support both teams. Did you know that Faith Erin Hicks is working with Rainbow Rowell on a graphic novel? DREAM TEAM. I’m so so excited about this.

What comic was your favorite this month?

9

Quotes & Notes: Someone by Alice McDermott

Posted by in Books, Quotes & Notes

someone

QUOTES

I saw my mother in a chair by the window when I opened my eyes again. My mother wore her hat and her pale broadcloth summer suit, and she held her purse on her lap. The slatted sunlight had washed her of all color. I thought for a moment that we might have both died during the long days and nights of my ordeal, not because of the pale light in the blank room, but because of the sweet assurance I felt, waking and seeing my mother there, that I was loved, cherished beyond all reason. The peace of this, the stillness of the room, the temporary suspension of pain seemed evidence enough that I had come to the end of time. I felt a strange elation. And then I closed my eyes and slept again. (182)

NOTES

Oh, Someone, what a delightful surprise you were. I didn’t know much about Someone before I read it. The jacket copy calls it a “resonant story of an unremarkable woman’s unforgettable life” and that’s very accurate, but please stop reading there. There’s just so much to discover about Marie, an average girl whose life is punctured by grief and joy in the way that all our lives are.

And this is Marie’s life, from the moment we first meet her as a young girl to the end of her life in less than 250 pages, but it is remarkable what this book accomplishes in that many pages. Time weaves in and out of Marie’s childhood, her young adulthood, middle age, old age and it feels effortless. Marie herself feels so fully realized, so true.

The language is sparse and beautiful, not a word out of place. There is some repetition throughout that I think I would need to read the book again to understand the purpose of. This was my book club read and we all felt it was very intentional, but we weren’t quite sure what the purpose was. Perhaps in everyone’s life you repeat things.

This book jacket is beautiful in person, the cover images you pull from online really don’t do it justice. The buildings are drawn in a beautiful gold ink and the motif is repeated throughout in each chapter and section divider. It’s purposeful and quiet, just like the inside of the book.

I’m so glad my book club made me read this. I’m not sure I ever would have picked it up otherwise. It’s just so unassuming, but truly it is lovely.

7

January Wrap Up!

Posted by in Books

january 2014

Books Read: 

  1. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
  2. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  3. Things I’ve Learned from Dying by David R. Dow
  4. On Such A Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee
  5. Same Difference by Derek Kirk Kim
  6. The Reconstructionist by Nick Arvin
  7. Tandem by Anna Jarzab
  8. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  9. Someone by Alice McDermott

Favorite: Tie between Someone Things I’ve Learned from Dying. If the entirety of The Goldfinch had been written like the first 250 pages, then it would have been the best book of the year for me probably. But it was too long and I firmly believe needed more editing. What Someone and Things I’ve Learned from Dying  accomplish in around 250 pages each is incredible.

Least Favorite: Tandem by Anna Jarzab

Most thought-provoking: On Such A Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee

Best concept with a disappointing outcome: The Reconstructionist by Nick Arvin. Coincidentally, The Atlantic published an article about The Reconstructionist and the author, who was actually a reconstructionist for his day job! Who knew! I probably would have if I had read his author bio. The interview is a good read if you’re interested in the topic, but not quite sure if you want to read the book. There are some images of computer simulated car crashes.

Biggest surprise: Someone by Alice McDermott. This was my book club read for the month and I didn’t expect to hate it or anything, but I loved it. Favorite book of the year kind of love.

Most traumatizing: Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. GOOD GOD. I didn’t know. I just didn’t know.

I did not finish my translation this month, which is okay because I already know that I’m going to be reading at least two for Comics/Graphic Novels February, which is happening right now! It’s the Super Bowl and I don’t have any plans (or any plans to watch it!) so I think I’m going to read comics all day. Yesterday I read Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang which was so so good.

State of the TBR: 

Out the Door: 3 books
Read & Kept: 3 books
Purchased: 2: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, which I listened to on audio and wanted to own, and Going Clear by Lawrence Wright, which I knew I was going to buy as soon as the paperback was available.

Overall, January was a good reading month. I didn’t love everything, but I think that even the books I didn’t love, I am glad I read them. How was your January?

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Quotes & Notes: Tandem by Anna Jarzab

Posted by in Books

9780385742771

 

QUOTES

“You can see it better with the lights off,” he explained.

It took a second for my eyes to adjust, but when they did I saw it: a river of undulating green light high in the sky. If I needed any more proof that Juliana’s world, the one I saw when I slept, was real, this clinched it.

“I don’t understand,” I breathed. I was captivated by the glow of the aurora borealis, something I’d never imagined I’d see in person. It had always been my favorite part of the dreams. A feeling of calmness and relief flooded my body.

NOTES

One great thing about working in publishing is that people are always passing books around. I received this one from a coworker who wasn’t necessarily interested in reading it, but I have a soft spot for parallel universes. Sasha is a normal teenage girl who lives with her grandfather in a normal town. When her long-time crush asks her to prom, it’s too good to be true. And, of course, it is totally too good to be true. Grant is not Grant, but Thomas, his analog (aka double) from a parallel universe called Aurora. Aurora looks a lot like the US that Sasha remembers, but it has been thrown into political turmoil caused by two rivaling countries in what became the United States on Earth. The princess Juliana, Sasha’s double, has skipped town, unwilling to participate in a political marriage that was orchestrated against her will.

Oh, this book was so fast and so silly, I’m not sure it’s even worth writing a post. I am pretty good at turning off my critical eye for a book like this. I had no expectations for Tandem and I doubt I’ll keep reading the series, but I did enjoy reading the first book. Objectively, though, it’s not a good book and I’m just not sure I’m willing to devote more time to it.

I am interested, though, in reading more about parallel universes? Do you have any recommendations for excellent books about parallel universes and what happens when they collide?

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