Burn, Rewrite, Reread

I discovered this fun tag on Debby’s blog Snuggly Oranges. I’m too shy to tag anyone else, but play along if you want!

The Rules: Randomly choose three books that you’ve read and decide which of the three you would burn, rewrite, or reread. You have to use all three categories per round of three books. Goodreads has a “random” sort option for read books, so that’s what I’m doing to choose mine.

Round 1

Reread: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
I have a horrible memory when it comes to story lines, so I’d be happy to re-read this fun mystery in a year or two.

Rewrite: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
I really loved this book despite my disagreeing with its philosophy and morals. But the final chapters are SO PREACHY and gag-inducing that I would re-write them to be more subtle.

Burn: Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
Luck of the draw! It’s not that I hated this book, but I wasn’t head-over-heels in love with it either.

Round 2

Reread: The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
This classic sci-fi is always worth a reread, but I really should read some other H.G. Wells stuff first.

Burn: Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris
Out of all the Sedaris books I’ve read, this is my least favorite. Yeah, some of the stories are funny, because when animals act like humans with problems it is pretty funny. It’s also really awkward a lot the time.

Rewrite: Anne of the Island (Anne of Green Gables #3) by L.M. Montgomery
REWRITE TO HAVE ANNE AND GILBERT BLYTHE TOGETHER!!!!! Seriously, we wait for that the whole freaking series and then LOOK AT THIS POS RESOLUTION.

Round 3

Reread: Emma by Jane Austen
My all-time favorite author is Jane Austen, and I’ve only read Emma once. I’ve read P&P 6+ times, S&S a handful of times too, but how is it that I’ve read Mansfield Park and Emma the SAME AMOUNT OF TIMES? For shame.

Rewrite: After Dark by Haruki Murakami
There are several things that I didn’t like about this story and mostly because it’s not 1Q84 or Kafka on the Shore. It needs a rewrite with more emphasis on the super weird coma girl.

Burn: The Cardturner by Louis Sachar
You know this author because he wrote Holes. The Cardturner is not Holes.

Do you agree? Speak now or forever hold your peace!

If I Were the Editor of ‘Cleo’

Sometimes I am punished by karma for judging books by their covers. Though I was truly looking forward to reliving my childhood fixation on Ancient Egypt, I mostly requested an ARC of Cleo because the cover was so puurrrty. Note to self: Stop doing this.

Cleo is about a young Cleopatra whose mother has just died and whose father is playing politics in Greece. Her two half sisters take over the dual-throne of Egypt and so doing threaten the blessing of future of the country because they worship Am-Heh, the god of evil. Cleo, as the goddess Isis’s chosen one, must complete a quest and help Isis regain her full power.

There were so many things I disliked about this book, but I think most of the problems could be solved by going through a heavy round of editing. If I were the editor, here’s what I would tell Lucy Coats to do:

Cut out redundant information. For example, whenever something not all sparkles and sunshine is happening (in a landscape description, with an action scene, with vegetables) there is a sentence explaining that Isis is loosing power and that’s why life isn’t unicorn farts. After the second mention, I will be able to make the connection without the author holding my hand.

Cut down on the constant inner monologue. The book is written in the first-person perspective, and Cleo has lots of secret information that she can’t tell anyone, but she chatters so incessantly in her own mind that I my introverted self was getting annoyed with the author. And it wasn’t just chatter, it was repetitive questions that Cleo never asks aloud and the audience is not supposed to answer. Let me give you an example from the text:

“How long did we have? I didn’t know. It must be late in the evening — but had we passed over into the day when the Dark Feast of Serapis dawned?”

Since this 320 page book is about 20% questions, a rewrite without the questions makes this much more palatable. Here’s my suggestion:

It was late in the evening now, and I wasn’t sure how much time we had before the dawn of the Dark Feast of Serapis arrived.

Do not make this story into two parts. The book ends with “To be continued…” when there is absolutely no need. Additionally, it’s broken at a really awkward place: right after the group has successfully escaped the city with the important things they need and are on their way to deliver the important things to Isis. Fifty more pages and this story is over! Sure, more plot points can be introduced, but that’s just prolonging the inevitable. If you must, make book two about Cleo on the throne and finish book one’s adventure where it started. Yeah, there’s the issue of this book becoming a 500 page tome, but if Cleo’s questions got cut out and the repetitive information was condensed into more dignified sentences, this book would still be under 300 pages.

Cleo hits shelves May 7, so unfortunately my edits won’t be taken into account ;) I’m willing to be hired on future projects though!

Note: Orchard Books gave me an e-ARC for review purposes but that obviously didn't change my honest opinion.

Poet’s Corner || Salad Anniversary by Machi Tawara

I don’t read poetry very much, mostly because I’m intimidated by it. I want to understand it so badly, but I get this feeling that I’m doing it wrong. And I know I’m not alone in doubting myself.

It was liberating to read this essay by Elisa Gabbert, a poet and poetry critic, where she admits that she doesn’t always get poetry. She also declares that when poetry critics complain that a bad poem is just ‘prose chopped into lines,’ they are forgetting something: ‘Poetry is just prose chopped into lines.’ Reading that tripped a switch in my brain. I spend hours a week reading prose without so much as a quiver, so what’s my problem with poetry?

My very smart and talented poet friend Jeevan Narney once visibly gagged when I told him that I was enjoying the poems of Billy Collins. Billy Collins is the poet for the masses, evidenced by his two-time U.S. Poet Laureate title. Yeah, he’s kitschy, but is that really so bad? I can listen to Billy Collins poems while I’m driving, and understand them enough to chuckle, and that’s ME having a GOOD TIME with POETRY.

Japanese poet Machi Tawara had a collection of poetry that went viral in the late 1980’s. It’s sold over 2.5 million copies to-date, inspired TV shows, a film, other poetry collections, etc etc. It’s a huge success. Salad Anniversary, as the English translation is called, recently got a facelift by Pushkin Press, and I requested a review copy of it. Poetry that the masses enjoyed? Must be up my alley. It turns out that my guess was correct: this is a perfect read if you want to enjoy the structure of poetry, would like something that our references our contemporary condition, and is light yet thoughtful.

Tawara writes about the problems of modern love (from an introvert’s perspective, for sure), daily life, family relationships, and self-doubts. Even though she’s Japanese, and didn’t have to deal with eHarmony or Tindr when she was writing it, it’s super easy to nod along, smile ruefully because it’s true, and see yourself in her words.

Ponder this for example. In the midst of longing for her relationship with her lover to have been more matured than it really was, she writes:

thinking of the slender margin
between unreal and real
     “Today only!”
Red blouse in the window, on sale each time I go by

It’s clever, right? And understandable. Here’s to more Poet’s Corner posts in the future!

My Top Ten All-Time Favorite Authors

This week's edition of Top Ten Tuesdays (hosted by The Broke & The Bookish) features my all-time favorite authors! Even though most of the books I read and have read in my life are by YA authors, when I put this list together I realized that not many of them made the cut. For me, YA books are fun and entertaining, and they provide conversation material for important contemporary subjects.

But, I chose the following ten authors because they: significantly changed my way of seeing the world, consistently write books that appeal to me, and have books that I have read multiple times. I also listed my suggestions for a good ‘intro’ book if you’d like to read them but aren’t sure where to start.

p.s. Play a game! Try to guess the author from their picture!

David Sedaris (Me Talk Pretty One Day) // Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz) // Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers: The Story of Success)

Charles Dickens (Oliver Twist) // Laura Ingalls Wilder (Farmer Boy) // Haruki Murakami (Kafka on the Shore)

Charlotte Bronte (Jane Eyre) // Shirley Jackson (The Lottery) // C.S. Lewis (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)

Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice)

image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Do any of my favs make your list?

'The Walls Around Us' Brings Life to Ghosts of the Past

Perhaps you know Shirley Jackson for her short story ‘The Lottery’ that you read in an American literature class. She published tens of short stories and several novellas, centering on themes of isolation, ‘otherness’, and a perverted sense of justice. Everytime I read one of her stories, I talk about them as creepy, eerie, disturbing, mind-bending, unexpected, yet familiar. They are familiar because she has so influenced our current generation of authors (Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Suzanne Collins, etc) that we surely know her tales just by rubbing shoulders with more contemporary works.

As I read The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma, I kept thinking about We Have Always Lived in the Castle, published a few years before Jackson’s death in 1965. The two stories are so similar that if I described key elements in Jackson’s story, it would reveal important plot points in The Walls Around Us. Both tackle Jackson’s favorite themes that I mentioned earlier, and even some finer details make a dual appearance.

That’s not to say that the stories are identical, however. The Walls Around Us has two narrators: Amber, an inmate in a maximum security juvenile detention center in upstate New York, and Violet, a rich ballet dancer on the cusp of a successful career at Juilliard. They narrate their lives and experiences, but they both have a curious obsession with Ori. Ori, who is a former ballet dancer and Violet’s best friend, is convicted of murder and becomes Amber’s cellmate.

As the story progresses, you realize that Amber’s words, “I knew that just because people on the outside were free and clean, it didn’t mean they were the good ones,” ring true. Both Amber and Violet are telling Ori’s story, but they are deliberately not telling all of it. As you piece together different angles, versions of events, and correct the timeline that is given, you see that something very dark and disturbing emerges.

The narrative style itself is very beautifully written. Though I usually dislike first-person narration, it made sense to use it in this book because it highlights the differences in the ways each character tells her version of the story. Besides that, the prose and rhythm of the sentences are gorgeous, and I appreciated that the paragraphs were built in a way that wasn’t always linear and straightforward.

I enjoyed reading The Walls Around Us because the story is intriguing, it’s well-edited, and the storytelling itself is of such a high caliber that I would point to this as an example of what to aim for in a YA novel.

On a side note, after reading The Walls Around Us, I was inspired to read all of Shirley Jackson’s stories this year. Anyone with me??

Thank you Algonquin Young Readers for providing an e-ARC for me to review! That didn’t affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Covering Covers

The other night Silas and I were up late, in our separate rooms, texting and laughing hysterically at Kindle Cover Disasters. And then he made me laugh until I cried. Happy Friday everyone!

If you're itching for more in the same vein, go read the Cover Snark posts by Christina @ A Reader of Fictions. I die every time.

Another Turtle: I woke up in a world without Terry Pratchett

A long time ago, a mad mathematician, with a very questionable attraction towards his niece, wrote a poem called Jabberwocky and inserted it in his book Through the Looking Glass. It’s a poem that describes… Something. Something magical. Amorphous. Crooked and mysterious. It doesn’t make any sense. It was one of the first and most expressive exponent of Nonsense, this form of art that at times consists of knocking coconut shells together and pretending you’re riding a horse through English fields searching for holy grails, and that influences the spinning of the world since someone realized that 'humor' and 'sense' are concepts that can go through a very harsh divorce. It was there, expressed in another form of art, one much more spread out and much less interesting. Literature, in its most original and profound sense, is the work of tying letters one to another in a coherent way and make something out of it. Literature, in its most practical sense, is the construction of books, narrated stories, through words. Literature, in its most metrosexual sense, is what people call 'real books', as if there existed in the world something like 'false arte'.

Terry Pratchett said once that people accused him of making literature.

As I write these words, I have been waking up in a world without Sir Terry Pratchett for thirty-four days. He was a British fantasy author who wrote more than forty books, and he even beat J.K. Rowling as the 'most read author in the United Kingdom', right in the middle of the Potterian frisson.

Thirty-four days in which the world is rounder, in the bad way. Without that disc shaped planet that Pratchett created, balanced on the backs of four elephants, standing on the shell of a galactic sea turtle. Thirty-four days without that fantastical form of writing that makes him guilty of all literary charges.

Pratchett’s writing was truly very elaborate. Few times has the world seen someone that made words, its meanings, its lyricism and its transcendence dance in favor of the story being told with apparent effortlessness. He did it with grace, with hardness, with rhythm and with fervor. Even so, many people decided to ignore Pratchett because the bulk of his work belonged to 'smaller' 'genres': comedy and fantasy.

Pratchett used fantasy and comedy the same way a painter uses the color blue. Sometimes in the sky, as background. Sometimes in a bird, as the subject of the painting. Sometimes as one of these hip and modern painters whose paintings are entirely blue, and you don’t understand what exactly what is he doing, but the painter never meant for it to be 'understood'. His comedy and fantasy were not only the 'back setting', as in many other works. They took the central stage to become theme, transport, model, explosion. Pratchett managed to blend in satire and elaborate 'high fantasy' concepts with the purest nonsense comedy in a phenomenal way. His attention to detail was enviable. For example, in a disc shaped world, no one followed directions such as 'north, south, west, east', but rather 'center, border, anti-clockwise and clockwise'.

Comedy is, for all of us, a relief and a weapon. And Pratchett pointed that weapon at everyone. Classic literary archetypes, the insanity of religious extremism, the power systems that rule the world. And the son of a bitch had the audacity of doing so with a surprising level of humanity. His characters indeed are witches, barbarians, tourists, insurance salesmen and conman wizards, but they are all so human (except for the Librarian. He is an orangutan). Their weaknesses and their dreams are as epic as the ones inside all of us. His most beloved character, Death, is Discworld’s angel of death (only his job, not his personality), and many times all that he wants is just a farm and a family, and not all that ruckus of souls, work accidents and assassination. He spoke always in uppercase letters, and was the character that best understood the adventures of human being. Another of Pratchett’s recurring themes was popular culture. Mythology, cinema, music, politics, everything went to the Discworld and to his other works as jokes, but such accurate jokes that, once the hemorrhage had stopped, you’d reach a new level of understanding.

His main strength was the magic he performed with words, subverting expectations and meanings in each paragraph. Deconstructing prejudices and creating life. The actions and situations on his disc shaped world almost never followed the common sense of our globe shaped world, but different from the Jabberwocky, they reached somewhere. Not exactly a classic moral lesson, but a new unfolding of what you thought you knew a lot about.

There was another author, also departed far too early, that had much in common with Pratchett, but had much more prestige outside Britain. Douglas Adams even had a big budget feature film made based on his The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is referenced in 11 out of 10 conversations of these nerds of today, who completely forgot about the time when being a nerd was a crime. Pratchett did to fantasy what Adams did to science fiction. But Pratchett, who managed to insert just enough heart and actual philosophy, rather than idle sarcasm and one-liners, was a superior writer. (Yes, my friends, I have touched a bastion of literary paradigm. Next time I’ll trash talk Tolkien).

His most famous friend, Neil Gaiman, (whom he wrote Good Omens with) said that people should not be confused: Pratchett may appear to be a kindhearted old man, with his wordplay, his black fedora hat and his appearance of 'Sigmund Freud with more recreational and less heavy drugs', but in fact Terry Pratchett was furious. Furious with the world, with the institutions. Furious with his own mind, deteriorating quickly because of the advanced state of Alzheimer’s he was in. Furious with the government that didn’t allow him to euthanize.

Pratchett’s fury may have been righteous, but I disagree with it being his cause. Pratchett created awe, love, heroism and nobility from pariahs and evil spirits. His endings were not only 'happy', but they were the rest after a very crazy adventure (and they were never what you expected them to be). Pratchett may have had his fury as his locomotive, but used it to reach a place of beauty.
That was Terry Pratchett for me. The man that, in my opinion, filled with humbleness and 45% trustworthiness, was the best writer alive.

Until March 12, 2015, when his disease, defined by him as an 'embuggerance', took him to meet his greatest character, tall, boney, always smiling and always speaking in FULL CAPS. And together they went to search for another turtle, somewhere far from here.

The wizard Rincewind. Granny Wheaterwax. Captain Samuel Vimes. The Librarian. The useless Mort. Death. Cohen, the barbarian. Lord Vetinari. Moist Von Lipwig. The Luggage. Twoflower, the tourist. The Wee Free Men. Vampire. Small gods. Guards. Dragons. The great turtle A’Tuin.

We are all orphans now.

Go in peace, Sir Terry.

Thank you so much to wonderful Silas Chosen for writing this homage to Terry Pratchett. If you are curious and overwhelmed about reading the Discworld books, don't fret, it isn't a series that needs to be read in order (a tell-tale sign of what is to come). But, if you insist, here's a Discworld reading chart to help guide you.

image sources: 12

A Letter to My YA Self

Ginger @ Greads had a great idea: write a letter to yourself when you were a young adult. Give your ghost of teenage past encouragement, advice, and a pat on the back. I’ve been loving reading all the letters as they are published, and decided to play too.

Dear Alisa,

The year is 2003 and you are thirteen years old. You are starting high school in the fall, and right now you really really really wish your parents would let you go to public high school like all the other homeschooled kids are doing (do yourself a favor and stop caring about that. You’ll not care about it in a few months anyways). You aren’t stylish, you’re naive, and you’re nervous about joining the public school’s swim team a year before everyone else on your club team. Your family is hosting two exchange students this year: one from Japan, and the other from Finland. Savor these moments, and treat them with all the grace and kindness that you can muster… being a foreigner is really freakin hard, as you’ll find out after you graduate university!

Stop worrying about if your life is exciting enough, and wishing that it was as fun as the older kids’ lives. Trust me, in 10 years your hard work and courage is going to give you so much more excitement than you could ever dream of. You’ll break the habit of comparison by the time you’re my age, and you’ll be able to hear your inner voice, trust your intuition, and keep your mind happy and healthy. Start trying that now! (HINT: journaling helps.)

Spoiler, you visit Greece! Did you know that you'll have
to get a passport expansion because you travel so much?
Regarding your reading: I’m glad you volunteer at the library and joined a teen book club led by an awesome librarian (whom I now recognize must have been going through culture shock to be placed in that conservative Arizona town that is something out of Breaking Bad). The little scoops of insight that Chris gives you about the book industry, publishing, and YA books are going to stick with you for a long time. Yeah, shelf-reading is brain-numbing, but pay attention to your interests now, because they are clues to finding happiness in the future.

I’m so grateful that you read everything and anything that is vaguely interesting. You still will when you’re 25, btw. As Professor Jenkins will tell you in three years, hold on to your innocence. It’s okay that you have no idea what the “must-reads” are for certain genres, that you are oblivious to the word “trope”, that the YA section is complete hit-or-miss but your determination to finish books forces you stick with the misses (most of the authors haven’t really figured out teenagers yet… except for JK Rowling). All of these stories are going to make you a better person.

Speaking of Ms. Rowling, there is one thing you need to know, because it’s our biggest regret: break the rules and read Harry Potter. Break all the rules and read all the forbidden books. You have your own library card, a backpack, and your own room… like, hello, your little brother smokes weed and you are too afraid to read a book because mom said not to?

This is a key to one of the most important life lessons you have to learn: rules, sometimes repackaged as advice/approval, that restrict learning are rules that you should break. Adults are going to verbally try to stop you from going to university. Bosses are going to tell you that making such drastic life changes is bad for your future. When deciding between quitting a job and disappointing people or letting your education suffer, quit the job. Oh, and nowhere in the Bible does it say to not investigate, question, and analyze, so be wary of the church people that do.

Keep up the good work!


p.s. I'd post a photo of 13 year old you, but I lost all of them when one of your hard drives crashed and the other one was stolen. You'll get over that loss. 

3 Reasons to Read 'A Darker Shade of Magic'

Since I read tons of book blogs specifically about YA fiction, it’s pretty normal for me to see more than five book reviews of the same newly released book in one week. Because I like seeing how different people write reviews, I go ahead and read them all. What I end up finding is that one review tips the scales and convinces me to add that book to my TBR, not because it is such a beautifully-written review, or even because it was a positive review. It’s usually because of one sentence that mentions something that I’m interested in.

I know that recently tons of reviews of A Darker Shade of Magic have been being posted. It’s a fun, well-paced book about magical young man who can travel between different versions of London and starts on a quest to “throw the ring into the fires of Mount Doom” (so to speak). But, maybe you haven’t added it to your TBR list yet. Here are three reasons that might tip the scales:

There is no romance.
Sometimes I’m in the mood for a good, clean, fun romance (I’m headed straight to you, Rainbow Rowell). But most of the time I would much rather skip the does-he-like-me drama, unconvincing love at first sight (let’s be real and call it hormones or lust), or the brave yet undecided girl-caught-in-a-love-triangle. I think it’s too shallow and narrow-minded to assume that all teens, or all readers have relationship issues and can/want to relate to characters that do. I didn’t and I don’t. I want to read books about friendships with excellent interpersonal character development. A Darker Shade of Magic portrays good light-hearted friendship, cooperation, and playful banter between the main female and male characters.

It’s definitely fantasy, but you don’t have to be a super-nerd to enjoy it.
The Chronicles of Narnia has a wide audience appeal because the fantastical elements don’t require a lot of effort from the reader to grasp, the pacing remains steady, and the invented world doesn’t differ much in appearance from our own. Compare TCON with Lord of the Rings--which fantasy style asks more of the reader? ADSOM uses fantasy and magic in ways very similar to The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter.

It has a great female character.
She’s spunky, pushy, determined, tries to be self-reliant, and keeps a positive attitude. She has big goals that she’s working towards (though I wouldn’t say her goals and line of work are exactly something you should aspire to follow). She’s clever and quick-witted. And she has some obvious flaws. Sometimes she appears more like a cartoon character than a real-live person we might encounter in the world, but the key thing here is that she’s not simply a vessel (skip to ‘Exhibit A’).

Did I convince you yet? If you’ve read ADSOM already, can you think of more reasons to convince potential readers?

Life Update || April 2015

I visited Santos, Brazil over the three-day Easter weekend. It was fun to see where my boyfriend and his family grew up. Santos is beautiful and more laid-back than busy São Paulo, and it is the southernmost place I have ever been.

Popcorn! Lots of street vendors sell popcorn in the afternoons and evenings when I’m on my way to and from work. I usually don’t carry cash, but the other day I happened to have something that works equally well: Easter chocolates. Guess who successfully made a trade with the popcorn man!

While in Santos, we strolled along the beach and I decided that this was the time to finally try a traditional Brazilian caipirinha. It’s a drink made from sugar cane alcohol (pinga), lime juice, sugar, and crushed ice. I liked it, but it was too strong for my lightweight body. When my Portuguese improves, I’ll ask for it to be half soda water.

I’ve been listening to The Fountainhead during my commutes. It really takes my mind off of how much time I spend riding the metro. I'm so close to finishing it, but my loan expired and someone else was in line for it. Curses!

Wool blankets! The nights have been much cooler as we shift to later in the fall here in the Southern Hemisphere. Unfortunately, it’s not cold enough yet to kill off the mosquito population.

Interesting Links
Do not miss this series of posts about teen-girl representation: About the Girls
Some goodies found on the awesome #VeryRealisticYA 
Why I Need a Break From Books About Dead Girls
Can’t Get Enough of that Trope

#BookwormProblems || Bad Audiobook Narrators

Jessica over at Quirky Bookworm hosts a monthly linkup called #bookwormproblems. Join in on the 6th of the month and complain with us! I decided to streamline my Bookaholics Anonymous posts with this because they are pretty much the same thing.

São Paulo is one of the world’s largest cities, and even somewhere relatively close still takes a lot of time to reach. I commute at least two hours per day using public transportation. Sometimes I have four hours of commuting, depending on my work schedule. That’s a lot of time that I spend doing something I love: reading books.

Only, I don’t read books, I listen to them. The sidewalks here are a hazard at best, and the cause of a broken ankle at worst, so you really need to watch your step. There are so many rush hour commuters that I would surely run into someone if I was trying to walk and read a book at the same time. I can’t afford to buy physical books. And besides that, I’ve been warned by many a Brazilian that you should keep your valuables out of sight if you’re riding the train. All of these reasons led me to an obvious solution: library audiobooks that I listen to on my phone that is securely hidden deep in the recesses of my purse.

Usually the narrators are wonderful and shape the experience to be much better than I would have had on my own. I particularly enjoy when the author reads the book, like with David Sedaris. But other times the reader totally ruins the book. Which leads me to my #bookwormproblem this month: BAD AUDIOBOOK NARRATORS.

I checked out Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami (read by Rupert Degas) from the library. The story is in first-person voice, which I already dislike. But that also means that the narrator is the character instead of just telling you about the character. I have this picture in my head of the type of voice that Murakami gives his quiet, reserved, clean and attentive male characters. Rupert Degas clearly doesn’t have the same picture. The way he spoke totally transformed the character from humbly revealing insights about himself (how I would have read it) to being condescending, boastful, and conceited. I think it was the way he put unnatural pauses in the middle of sentences, as people do when they are about to reveal something exciting and important. Plus, he started most sentences with a higher pitch and ended on a lower one. Try talking like this aloud and there is no way to not sound completely full of yourself (and $#!t). After an hour of that, I pulled the plug. Why should I let this guy ruin a whole book that I would otherwise probably enjoy?

Unfortunately, my library only has an audiobook e-loan available for Dance Dance Dance. I guess I’ll just have to wait a while until I decide to buy a kindle version.

Do you listen to audiobooks? What I'm really asking is: Do you KNOW MY PAIN??

Books that Made Me 'Meh'

I read three books recently, none of which grabbed me. Rather than making whole posts about books I don’t care about, here are three teeny-tiny mini reviews!

A Bride’s Story by Kaoru Mori
This manga has tons of things I’m interested in: a Mongolian bride struggles with the differences between her culture and fitting into her new husband’s culture along the Silk Road in the 19th century. I LOVE that setting, and Mongolians remain the coolest people on the planet IMHO (see here for proof). I stopped reading after the first volume because I was totally creeped out that the bride, who is significantly older than the groom, has more of a mother-son relationship than a husband-wife one. And like, they jump between the two types all the time. Even if that kind of relationship is acceptable in other cultures, it made me unable to enjoy the rest of the otherwise beautiful story. Want to see my expression the entire time?

Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo
I want to read some influential, important manga works, and lots of people recommend Akira. Post-WWIII Tokyo, and multiple factions are struggling for power, information, and a WMD government experiment known as Akira. In theory it’s a cool story, but even while I was reading the penultimate volume 5, I wasn’t eager to make it to the final volume 6. I think there are so many characters that the character development is spread too thin. With the exception of two characters who undergo dramatic changes, we don’t really see any individual progress. It just isn’t the manga for me.

Endgame: The Calling by James Frey
Twelve teenagers from all over the world, who have been training their whole lives to kill each other in Endgame, battle it out in a world-crossing adventure. It’s like Battle Royale, James Bond (they have zero hindrances in regards to money, weapons technology, fake IDs, or being stopped by guys with guns), and Hunger Games, + alien overlords. Though I like the idea of how this book pairs clues and secret messages with internet adventures that gives clever readers the chance at winning real-life gold, the story for the story’s sake is predictable and poorly executed.

And don’t get me started on the theme of, “Yay for diversity, we have characters from all over the world! … in order to determine WHOSE RACE IS THE BEST.” I’m crossing my fingers that the characters stop fighting under this purpose in future books.

ps I got Endgame as an e-ARC from Netgalley, but that obviously didn’t change my opinion of the book.

New on the Stack || March Edition

New on the Stack
The Deliberate Reader hosts the monthly linkup New on the Stack to share what you’ve added to your piles in the past month. Link up and envy all the books that you didn’t get your hands on! I had four library holds come through this month, plus my bad habit of browsing for e-books when I’m bored, adds up to mean that I got more books than I would have expected in March.

Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami
How I got it: audiobook loan from the library
Why I got it: I’m slowly making my way through all of Murakami’s books, and my library only has the audiobook of this. The narrator was SO ANNOYING and made the character sound condescending, so I decided to stop listening to it before the whole book was ruined.

How I got it: e-book from the library
Why I got it: How could I keep calling myself a Murakami fan if I hadn’t read this yet?
The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler
How I got it: e-ARC from Netgalley
Why I got it: In a relapse of my self-imposed Netgalley browsing ban, I requested this because I enjoyed In Search of Lost Time and the storylines are similar. Plus, ya’ll know I judge books by their covers!

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
How I got it: audiobook loan from the library
Why I got it: I was browsing available audiobooks right before I had to leave for work, and thought I should give this a try. I’ve always been intimidated by The Fountainhead because of memories of AP English friends moaning and groaning about how hard it is to read. So far, it’s not so dense that I can’t easily follow it while I’m commuting.

In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
How I got it: kindle version from Amazon
Why I got it: References to this book keep popping up in my life, and I bet after I read it, I will notice them even more. I’ve never read anything by Proust, and I want to see if he’s as amazing as he’s made out to be.

How I got it: pdf from online somewhere (my library doesn’t have it and I’ve been wanting to read it for at least a year now, okay?)
Why I got it: So many of my smart phd friends have read it and recommended it. To be honest, I don’t know that much about the civil rights movement, or the prison system, or what the two have to do with each other. All I know is the US’s prison complex is out of control and no one is telling me why.

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
How I got it: e-book from the library
Why I got it: I’ve seen so many reviews of this book that I decided it was time to see what everyone is talking about. (ps I reviewed it already!)

How I got it: scannable from Manga Rock
Why I got it: Ana at Read Me Away said the author is one of her international favorites, and I was looking for manga to read shortly after that.

Akira, Vol I by Katsuhiro Otomo
How I got it: scannable from Manga Rock
Why I got it: I want to read the manga classics, and I was drawn in by promises of post-WWIII Tokyo, sci-fi, and amazing storytelling.

Fashion by the Book || Belzhar, The Hobbit, 1984

I'm going to go ahead and say that after putting together last week's Fashion by the Book post, I became addicted. {Note: If you don't subscribe to the Fashion by the Book tumblr, which gave me this inspiration, you should.} My boyfriend saw me having so much fun with it that he said I should start a similar tumblr, using movie posters instead of books. Brilliant idea! Take a peek: filmfashions.tumblr.com. But back to the bookishness! Vote for your favorite at the end :)


The Hobbit