Witch Born

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I read this over my two day mini vacation in the Appalachian Mountain region. Which if you ask  me, is the perfect place to read a witchy fall story. I was not actually responsible for having brought or chosen this book and I have NO IDEA if its a new release or very old ect. My sister brought it with from her school Library and it looked exactly right for the moment.

The story follows a young Elizabethan witch Alyce on the run from (basically everyone) witch hunters as she fights to find safety, solace and her place in the world. Along the way she encounters a cast of characters both historical and fantastical who ultimately lead her to a larger politically dangerous world and an even more dangerous truth.

Here’s the part where I admit that I didn’t love the book. Ugh. I hate it when I don’t love a book, truly I do. As a rule I love books (don’t we all) I love the way they feel in my hands, the way the pages sound and smell and even more I feel like the words people share are parts of their soul. So it’s not just that I have insanely limited to read time that makes me sad when I don’t love a book… its that somehow I feel like I am not respecting the aliveness of the tale.

ANYWAY, enough babbling, I suppose what I want to say here is that I think this was probably a lovely book..it just wash’t MY book. And a huge part of that is due to two factors.

  1. The first is that I was expecting more magic. The story is about witches, true witches, not just women in Elizabethan England being persecuted for otherness or just plain old fear of women. Those things are part of the story as they are part of history certainly but at the center of the plot were a whole lot of REAL witches, with magic (my favorite) and yet there was little use of the magic. And the magic they did have felt fuzzy and undeveloped in the narrative. I suspect this is really about personal preference but I like it when I can understand the structure and power of the magical world I am reading about. I don’t need things spelled out per se but if what I’m here for is the magic/supernatural/witchery ect well…
  2. The second is that this book sort of vaguely reminded me of the All Soul’s series (which I have loved for a long time) particularly the second book in the series Shadow of Night **small spoiler here for that book** ———-> Where the story takes place in STUNNINGLY well researched (due to the fact that that author has a PhD in the subject which is hard to come by lol) Elizabethan England. Unfortunately THAT book has a lot of the same characters and elements (seeing as they are historical) but it ALSO has a truly kickass witch with fully fleshed out magic (and vampires which I very much adore) so it’s hard to compete. So I am going to stop comparing now and move the heck on!!

So lets say I successfully manage to let go of my hang-ups.. what then?

Well then I think it’s actually a pretty good read! There is political intrigue (two queens!) and a chance to delve into a fascinating piece of history with a bit of fantasy to lead the way (which is my very favorite way to discover history!). I thought that the budding relationship between the sidekick was well handled, they fall instantly into fascination but love while hinted at, really doesn’t come into it. In fact I think I may have preferred the book overall if it had been told from his POV. Why? Possibly because he had a lot of information and a difficult and colorful backstory that felt more full than the MC. Somehow I felt like the author knew him better. Possibly because Alyce had a very small and sheltered life for REASONS prior to her forced adventure so her personality was just the tiniest bit empty.

Ok.. the REASONS…

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I wasn’t surprised. I know I said that in my last discussion. I may be hard to surprise who knows? I wasn’t fussed about it and it was a fun twist.

Here’s what I was fussed about.. in the last two min of the book Queen Elizabeth who is *gasp* Alyce’s REAL MOTHER. Puts her kid on a boat to America to live in hardship and poverty (and possibly go missing at Roanoke or cause Roanoke? Who knows, I made that part up) never to see her again and  and is like I love you so much also, BYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEE. 

And apparently we the reader are supposed to believe that this exchange not only conveys the depth of feeling that a Mother who has deeply loved and yearned for her child for years would have but ALSO that this is enough for both of them to have all the warm fuzzes and sail away in opposite directions happy and healed. Yeah, nope. I preferred the version of the story I was telling myself where Queen E vaguely cared for her child but cared for her Queenship more. I could accept that, and I wanted it to hit them both and propel them both into the future. But this version? The mother in me refuses to accept.

But hey, the Roanoke story I’ve made up might be an interesting sequel and I’d read it!

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Ummmmm ok.. so I realize after that that I maybe struggled with the book a bit more than I thought. I prefer to shower love and find the best in a story and I retain my claim that this book had all the goodness, it really just wasn’t my story. But it WAS a great book for the setting. And I appreciated it for being there (Is this starting to feel like a breakup speech?). If anyone has read and loved this book and wants to tell me about it from their perspective I would love to hear!!

Regardless, I am reading Bone Witch right now and I am 1000% IN LOVE so I will be back soon for non-complicated and problematic book adoration/discussion.

Oh and since In this recent incarnation of my blogging life I seem to be pairing my books with beverages. Here is the delicious local cider I was drinking for about 5 min out in the cool air with a peaceful mountain view. After that my toddler threw some leaves in my yummy warm cider sooooo yeah.

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WILDCARD

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Can I be honest? I’m going to be honest..

I did not love Warcross. I think I liked it, it was fine. I read it months ago and I don’t completely remember the details of my bookish feelings but I think I enjoyed it as a quick day-off read that pulled zero (lol) emotions from my eternally haggard soul. In fact my deep dark secret is that despite being a person who essentially started blogging out of desperation to talk to other book people about Marie Lu’s Legend series  (kinda seriously) I haven’t actually  truly clicked with any of her books since Champion.

Until today, I loved Wildcard. Loved it. It honestly felt a bit like coming home.

For me, I think that having the plot and relationships presented in Warcross be a bit faded in my memory helped me jump in. I sort of remember not caring about anyone all that much. Emika was a fun heroine and I enjoyed the Riders, but Hideo??? No. He felt empty and unlikable to me and I don’t think I bought into their  relationship. Somehow though, ten pages into Wildcard I cared about everyone and everything. Apparently, a bit of time and only a vague memory of the previous book was exactly what I needed. But actually it was probably because the stakes felt high and because Emika cared and I believed and connected with her voice in a way I hadn’t before. For whatever reason that allowed the character of Hideo to be fleshed out and emotionally balanced in a way that it hadn’t been before so by the time we dug further into his story arc I was fully invested both in hope for his redemption but also for a future for the Emika/Hideo ship.

The other thing that perhaps helped me here was that the book seemed overall much more character driven and less world building and game playing. I have seen others express disappointment that more time was not spent in the game but for me that probably contributed to my preference for this book. I LOVE science and science fiction  but I am not a gamer. I’m actually a weeeeennny bit tech challenged. So while I truly enjoy the overall concept of the neurolink and the Warcross game the actual gaming sequences sort of ends op feeling like a car chase scene to me (which is always where I check out in a movie).

Ultimately this story was truly about a lot of big concepts that are knocking at our proverbial door, and I love Lu for tackling those things. What I love even more is that the solutions aren’t obvious or clear, because they aren’t really! Science and technology have always had the power to save and destroy us and to do both simultaneously.

 

Ok time to talk details… feel free to skip if you haven’t read the book 🙂

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So I think we all knew who Zero was like 10 min after he showed up in Warcross right? That knowledge didn’t particularly bother me but I was certainly not surprised by the revelation. What DID surprise me was the sum total of the REST of Zero/Sasuke’s story! Holy hell! To say I loved the way that was crafted would be an understatement. I loved the duality of the character and the many ways his existence highlighted a moral tightrope that we all may walk someday soon. And I loved his backstory and how, praise be, it gave way to an AMAZING and emotionally complex route for Hideo to progress in his own story (something I think was missing in Warcross for me). For now though let me tell you the two things topics really chilled me.

  1. Child research: Disclaimer here, is that I’m a Resident Pediatrician… Sooooooo this one hits the mark in many ways. Firstly, I know and see the value of research PARTICULARLY in my field! Kids are in fact, vastly underrepresented because of course the issue of informed consent is SUPER sticky and also no one wants to risk hurting kids and thus, it is very hard to fund and be approved to study new treatments in children (which can be a good thing and theoretically prevents what happened to Susuke). But of course children need to be part of studies too in order to advance the care and treatment of childhood illnesses, because as pediatricians LOVE to say “kids aren’t little adults”. But often we use treatment modicums that have only been truly trailed in an adult population and THAT can be a problem too. So it’s complicated and easy to see how something like the Blackcoat experiment could occur (historically things like this have occurred). Of course as a mother, I get it in a different way and the it tears at me. I have seen the parents of patients who are throwing all their hope onto a tiny broken raft and you had better believe that would be me! 1000X over. I would do/try anything to make my daughter well, to keep her with me, to give us that time.  And I do not know if I would have the wisdom and foresight to see a bad egg, and truthfully I don’t know that the lines are always that clear. Which brings me to the next point
  2.   Uploading consciousness: This one is such a huge concept. One that terrifies    me but also excites me, if I’m being honest (which we said I was). I love that Lu handled this whole topic with thoughtful grace. She presented it in a way that made you see the emotional draw but also the darkness. I know I said I wasn’t a huge fan of the gaming portions but the final game, for what was essentially Sasuke’s soul was thrilling and I loved how it played out. I even loved that in the end Zero/Sasuke who are now one and the same live on. It felt right to me for this story although it does raise that interesting question about what IS Life.. was it created here, or simply transferred.. both? I love these questions and I love when they are wrapped in a book like this.

So about Hideo, I already mentioned that he wasn’t my favorite in Warcross so let me tell you what I loved about him in Wildcard. I loved the questioning! I loved that he was stubborn and blind to his obviously evil-mindcontrolling-overlord ways buuutt not really. He didn’t want to see the flaw, he didn’t want to think he had ulterior motives, but he did. And you could see right away that the pretty lies he had told  himself were crumbling. Which left him with a truth about himself, the truth being that he was willing to sacrifice his humanity and the free will of billions to find his brother. Obviously this probably isn’t morally sound. But I can at least understand it and empathize. It makes him deeply flawed and deeply human which filled in his character nicely. I also loved that it wasn’t completely Emika who guided Hideo to the huge and glaring error of his ways. Rather it was Susuke in the last bits of the story who was able to break down the walls, which made a lovely amount of narrative sense since he was the reason they existed. And I won’t lie, I have shed maybe two tears in my whole life over books (1 was Harry Potter 7 and the other was in middle school and I don’t remember the book) but the reunion scene between Hideo and Sasuke almost did it for me, beautiful!

P.S I love, love, love sibling love.

As for Emika and Hideo, I liked that this relationship was not left hanging. If I didn’t care about it at all in Wildcard I was firmly shipping them by the end of Wascross and I thought the resolution was natural. I believed that they had found a truth in each other and that they could evoke into people who built each other into the best versions of themselves.

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So ultimately, I really enjoyed this book, it struck a lot of cords with me. And these days with so little time to squeeze in books it makes me truly happy when I fall in love with a book (I have actually become a person who DNFs books on the regular, which has never happened before!!).  Time just seems to be running through my fingers lately for many reasons. Perhaps that’s why this sentiment struck me through the heart.

“At the end, we’d all wish for the same thing. Just a little more time.” 

Truth.

 

 

P.S The tea in the pic is a Tupelo brand green tea/mint Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

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Check Please!

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I was in Savannah GA this weekend and as always we had to pop into E.Shaver Fine Books. I LOVE this little bookstore so much it’s hard to describe. Anyway, I wandered into the graphic novel section (which i had actually never found before) and zeroed in on Check Please!

So, my truth is that I don’t often gravitate to graphic novels (though I recently ALSO purchased and read The Prince and the Dressmaker which was oh-so-wonderful and maybe I’ll post a bit about it soon since I seem to be doing this blog thing again).

My OTHER truth is that I had already read Check Please last summer and follow the web comic. However, I still love having this in my hand and read through the whole book last night 🙂

Anyway.. Book One follows Eric Bittle (Bitty) volgger, pie maker, former figure skater, Hockey bro (Y’all he is a hockey bro for all his Beyonce obsession & cleaning tendencies.. and yes I can use Y’all I AM IN GEORGIA) from day 1 freshman year to last day Sophomore year (THAT DAY). Which is actually a pretty good place to stop. Obviously if you haven’t read the comic before you can always go look at WHAT HAPPENS NEXT (which I totally would). But I felt like in book form the end (THAT END) was actually  a satisfying arc and I didn’t feel the need to go back and start over from that place online.

The premiss is actually…odd for someone like me Hockey, pie & college all wrapped up in a format I don’t usually seek out. Even with the brewing romance it’s not my norm. But ya know what? This whole story is just a ray of sunshine and happiness and sometimes you NEED that. You need something that’s easy to read that makes you laugh but that still pulls at you heart strings and covers topics you care about. I was initially pulled in just by seeing others in my social media feed post their appreciation and once I got started I was grateful I gave it a chance. I love these characters. And I especially love that Ngozi is able to continuously introduce whole NEW sets of characters every year that you care equally about while being able to maintain all the feels for the original crew.

So what if you aren’t a fan and haven’t already read it?? Will you enjoy it? Here are some thoughts:

  1. Hockey?? I don’t really like hockey: Yeah me neither. I was actually a figure skater as a kid/teenager lol but hockey is not my thing and it doesn’t matter AT ALL. It’s not that I just read around the Hockey part either.. I ENJOY it! I don’t know if it’s remotely accurate but I enjoy the subculture that is built around the game.
  2. College sports bros: Ummmmm yeah…. also not my thing because A. I am about 1 million years removed from undergrad B. I actually went to THEATRE SCHOOL first and hold a BFA in acting, which was before medical school.. Neither of those had a big sports culture lol. And actually even when I was a theatre kid I didn’t party much & jungle juice/tub juice/trash can juice WHATEVER you want to call it scared me. Buuuuuttt somehow Bitty with his pies and curtains and his uber liberal LGBTQ  friendly college campus makes the Bro culture endearing? Plus Lardo is an artist and I love it!
  3. Graphic novels: Yep, I can’t really answer for this one either except to say I’ve been testing the waters of a few things I haven’t tried before. This is my second graphic novel and I also dipped a toe in the waters of Anime for Yuri on Ice (which got me for the figure skating and pinned me with the romance.. I do love romance).

For me this was a perfect reading choice on a day where I needed a bit of happiness BUT also want to read and promote a LGBTQ love story written by a WOC. Because levity and happiness are important but we must use them to bolster ourselves for tough days. And truthfully maybe that’s what I love most about this story, how all the silly, soft bits are wrapped around a more serious foundation about mental health , failure,  coming out and love of all kinds. And also pie 🙂

 

 

 

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Black Wings Beating

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Oh hey.. it’s been a while! I’m a Doctor now, lol (but seriously tis true and definitely crazy).

Anyway, I’ve had the chance to read a few books FOR FUN, soul enrichment and entertainment ect. ect recently and it’s been great! I do a lot of endless note writing in the real though so i’m gonna try to be a new and improved shorter blog version of my previous self (so far this is not going well).

Ah well, without further ado:

I read Black Wings Beating this past weekend and it was NOT what I expected, which is a little odd because I didn’t read any blurbs, plot summaries or ARC reviews (which is pretty much my jam these days: 1) buy book 2) read if I have time 3) ask questions later). So I had essentially zero information (except that the cover was AH-MAZ-ING) so I don’t know what I thought i was going to read?? Doesn’t matter though, this was not what I thought it would be and tbh it took me a few chapters to adjust to that.

Once I did however I was glad for the experience. This was not an easy book. It is a book FULL of detail, emotions and rich world building.. but it wasn’t easy. Why?? Well.. the easiest answer is that the male MC was a whole lotta ugly. If you are looking for a functional sibling relationship full of love and protection this isn’t it… not on the surface at least & not in this book per se.

Sure, the female MC Kylee is protective sister X10,000 trying to hold everyone and everything together (a fact that I think rubs some the wrong way but that didn’t bother me) but her twin brother Brysen is a mess. Not the beautiful, tragic hero kind (though his story is truly painfully tragic) it’s more the day to day reality of chronic abuse and jealousy kind. And man have I SEEN that.  I see it often in “troubled”  kids/teens with complex devastating stories of neglect & abuse. The ones for whom the system may (not always) scale mountains (or at least show sympathy) when they are young, cute & helpless but as they grow and the deeply seeded flaws grow into dark damaging monsters we don’t know how to handle it, not because we are all terrible but because it can be damn complicated! And the way forward isn’t clear. Brysen, for example is cognizant of the pain he causes his sister. He knows he is punishing her and he even seems to sooth his own depression and anxiety by doing so. He is also old enough to “know better”.  He COULD make other choices,  but he doesn’t. It’s hard to feel for him and even harder to imagine a way for him to heal. Which was SO REAL, his story, his ugliness and the consequences were hauntingly realistic for all the fantasy packaging (which I love).  I don’t have any idea where London plans to go with his story.. I suspect his character arc will continue to progress to a place that allows for a more whole relationship with his sister & hopefully one self forgiveness.. but I sort of doubt he will come away magically healed by love or whatnot. Yes, there is a loving/healthy relationship setup going on with a blessedly not-an-asshole boy but I don’t expect that to be the answer to his demons. At least I hope not. What I want is for this character is to get to a place where he is beginning to develop a sense of self worth and self forgiveness so that he can extend those feelings to others and they to him. Regardless though, I have been a fan of London since Proxy and I trust him to tell the story that this character and this story needs.

And then there’s Kylee; for all that she is the more obviously sympathetic (and likable) character she is not without demons that are hurting herself and others. Though her actions have seemingly noble origins, in shouldering the entirety of the blame for her brother’s behavior and well-being she ultimatly does not take responsibility for her own mental health nor does she face her own sins. Thus she allows herself to be held in place by the idea of protecting her family (whom she truly does care for) while holding her bitterness and anger for both mother and brother in the deepest recesses of her heart. Truthfully I kind of love the moral and emotional dichotomy that presents. It makes her character complex but also deeply relatable if one is willing to look for the hidden flaws of noble sacrifice within themselves.

So yeah… this story is complicated, sticky, tangled & challenging. But if you dive in it has a lot to offer on the subject of human nature, mental health and imperfect familial love.

And on top of that it presents a truly unique fantasy style world complete w/complex religious constructs—> unrest —> brewing war and a vibrant set of cultures (OMG Owl Mothers!!!!!!! They obviously have all kinds of political motivations but they provided my FAVORITE  quote about only those who provide life may take it. Can this be a rule we all follow in the real world??  Not that women aren’t murderous buuuuttttt… IDK I feel like if we made all the life & death & war decisions the world might be a different shape.

But I’m a momma myself now too (oh yah, that ALSO happened!) and I am biased. But also viciously protective of the life I’ve brought into the world.

 

Anyway, I hope you give this book a chance, it’s truly fascinating and it was SO exciting to have another YA book out in the universe from this author. Thanks for stopping by!

 

Dr. LJ 😉

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The Darkest Part of the Forest.

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The Darkest Part of the Forest was one of those books. You know what I mean right?  The ones where it feels like you have been physically pulled into the pages and dropped off somewhere in the deep dark fairy infested woods to fend for yourself… And of course since you didn’t know you were IN fairy land you accidentally drank the elder wine some fantastical creature offered you and now you’re probably going to be stuck there forever and ever….But at least the wine is good!!

Because of course that’s the thing about books like this. Even though the world of the story is a dark and dangerous one and chances are you are not brave or clever enough to have any hope of not dying immediately you still desperately want to go live in the story. Really, I think if Holly Black showed up and told me “P.S. this shit is for real… probably you won’t survive an hour but you can trrrrryyyyy *cackle cackle cackle*” I’d be out the door and stamping thrice on fairy knolls before I even noticed that evil gleam in her eye.

Speaking of which, one of the things I loved about the world Black created was that it seemed to slip so nicely into the truth of our day to day existence. Sometimes when an author does this to me with a fantasy realm it throws me or at least takes me a while to adjust to the rules of the not quite parallel universe of the book. But for whatever reason it was easy as (very dangerous faire) pie to accept that somewhere in upstate New York (Or Philly, or somewhere close) there was a tiny tourist town with a fey population… maybe its because the tourists all went there to visit the boy in the glass coffin but like me they didn’t quite believe it was real.

Truth be told, I am not entirely sure I believe there AREN’T places like that somewhere… I mean…the legends grew up somewhere right??

Fantasizing about running away to join the fairy revel aside, I think the thing that drew me in and held me fast to this story was the relationship between Hazel and Ben. I have made no secret of the fact that sibling love is the lifeblood of many of my favorite stories and this one was no different. What WAS unique was the dynamics between this sibling pair. Often times (in my own family even) we assign roles… She’s the oldest so she’s the protector, she’s the baby so she’s the one we fight for etc and then of course you spend all kinds of time realizing that no one really fits these roles anyway. Sure it will always be my job to protect my little sisters but at some point you have to learn to share that job. Hazel and Ben were always there and it made them beautiful and dynamic to read.

Hazel for example is the warrior, that much is pretty defined (and hella awesome). She is carrying a terrible secret and you know immediately that she will do ANYTHING for Ben. But just because she might win in a sword fight (ok… she would definitely win) doesn’t mean Ben is any less likely to run off into the woods wielding an axe when she’s in trouble… I loved watching Hazel deal with the aftermath of the choices she made to protect her brother… because while ANY sister knows that no price is too high when it comes to saving our siblings it is heart wrenching to watch both of them make mistake after mistake chasing after that salvation.

And Ben, oh Ben… Ben takes “tortured artist” to a new level.. I loved the internal struggle he was facing between the absolute NEED to play music and the fury he felt at being controlled by it… art is like that ya know? Not to mention his pervasive fear that he wasn’t really himself because the art had so completely shaped his life… Whether you are an artist or not I think we can all relate to that. We all find ourselves at moments in our lives staring around wondering if the choices we made that brought us there were even ours to begin with… but even worse is the knowledge that WE really DID make those choices and that “fate” is just a pretty lie.

This book was  so sneaky like that, oddly hushed, overflowing with magic and yet FULL of uncomfortable moments.(talk about #morallycomplicatedYA !!!) I must confess that as a reader I always love when I close a book and realize that I am more than a little heartbroken by a narrative I hardly even noticed while I was reading (like the undertones of racism and neglect that flowed quietly below this story). To me that quality is what makes a book worth reading over and over and over again just so you can dig out and dissect all those little side stories and commentary (I have admittedly read this one several times now… this is actually my 3rd attempt at finishing this discussion which  I began ages ago).

So combine all that with not one but TWO rather appealing, gloriously complex love interests (I may appreciate social commentary but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it even more wrapped around a bit of romance) and I was sold half way to next may (is that a saying?? can it be a saying? it seems to make sense in my discombobulated brain).

For me there was so much to love about the this book (if you have not yet read it I obviously believe you should add it to your black friday shopping list… or I would believe that if I didn’t hate black friday) not least of which is that (as far as I know) it is a standalone story. Now, if you’ve read any of my other blogs or had more than 5 min of conversation with me you KNOW I love a series… But school has indeed eaten my life and these days I have fallen into a well of reading books I already know and love for the sake of comfort and time.. If any of you are anything like me you know its impossible to put down a fresh good book.. and I will plow right on through a 15 book series if presented with one (DO NOT START THE AMELIA PEABODY SERIES IN MED SCHOOL) so it’s really best for my sleep schedule and grades if I stick to these gorgeous thought provoking stand alone novels 🙂

That being said… Ive got 4 more days of break and if anyone has any suggestions of what I should read in that time I’m all ears!!! (I am totally following  #morallycomplicatedYA but I could use a bit of guidance since I’m out of the loop book wise and that hash tag was an avalanche of amazingness!)

 

Also… if you are reading this… thanks!!!!  I don’t know if/when I will be back but I want you all to know that I’ve missed you 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Where She Went (i.e: How a 3ish star book can send you into an unexpected frenzy of self examination)

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Right, so. One might think that I would crawl out the abyss that is medical school to tell you about the MOST AMAZING book I have ever read right?? Well… one would be wrong.

It’s not that I haven’t read some AMAZING books over the last few months (Usually in a fevered reading frenzy that begins sometime around 11pm and ends sometime around 4am..which maybe isn’t the best life decision). At some point I fully intend to finish one of the twelve blogs I have started about all these wonderful books… OR I might cave in a do a few mini reviews because some of these books… WOW…we really do need to chitty chat about them!! HOWEVER this is not a blog about those books… this is a blog about a book that felt pretty “eh” but turned into a bizarre bookish experience that I bet my fellow book nerds will relate to. Which is basically why I am busting out of my school coffin like a vampiress braving the light of blog day. Because sometimes you just need to share these weird quirky geek experiences with people who will understand.

A few disclaimers.

1. I did not read If I Stay

2. As you may have guessed due to the total lack of zombies, vampires, magic or spaceships and without even the slightest HINT of an impending apocylypse Where She Went is outside my preferred genre…

So, like I said, I did not read If I Stay (bad I know, but I’m cutting corners where I can lately) what happened was this: I was having one of those days where I was all alone and up to my eyeballs in studying (can’t recall what.. it all blends together) and I decided that what I really needed was to weep about something…that happens to everyone right??

Sooooo I rented If I Stay which did in fact cause a tear or two to escape my nasolacrimal duct. SUCESS !!

Well THEN of COURSE I needed to know what the hell happened next!!! Obviously the first thing I did was turn to the blogosphere in search of answers… turns out y’all are better people than me though because while there were plenty of really lovely blog posts about the books there was a decided lack of detailed spoilers.

*****FYI this might be a good time to mention that will NOT be a spoiler free chat!!******

So then, despite the fact that it was midnight and I was already hella exhausted and had a test monday I accidentally purchased and read (in one sitting). Where She Went. 

And here’s where the weirdness starts.

Because on the whole I did not love this book. Not by a long shot. If I were the type of reader with a clear understanding of how the star system on Goodreads is supposed to work I think it would have been somewhere between 2-3 stars for me.

Now I am certain that some of this has to do with the fact that I only read the second book but I ran this by my sister (she tends to read all the contemporary stuff that I avoid) who DID read the first book and we both felt that as a whole the story was a little one dimensional and dare I say… a weeeee bit unrealistic??

Listen, I can appreciate the irony of the reader who loves all things SciFi/Fantasy/paranormal and what have you saying she thought a book was “unrealistic” buuuuttt… yeah… The “Adam is a bad-boy 21 year old rock star who soared to fame after writing a breakout album about his broken heart meets up with his now ALSO kinda famous ex-girlfriend who left him and they spend one magical night rediscovering each other’s soul’s” plot premiss was a little tough to swallow… just sayin.

Maybe that’s exactly why I don’t usually read contemporary ooey-gooey emotional romancy stuff… Because while I LOVE a bit (or a lot) of romance I like it shelled in fantasy with a dash of end-of-the-world so that the stakes are so insanely high that things like instalove and soul mates bordering on obsession seem sorta reasonable.

But all in all I generally accepted that Where She Went just wasn’t really my thing to begin with and set to speed reading  in search of closure or what not.

So, I got to the ending, thought “Aww that was nice, I liked that.” and set the damn thing down to go to bed….

Ten minutes later I’m brushing teeth and hair and contemplating the new stress lines on my face when I find myself thinking “Hmmmmm lot’s of the bloggers..even the one’s who LOVED this book thought Adam was being a bit.. of a.. um…”whiny bitch”…Huh, I don’t think I felt that way…. I should probably skim the end again… just to see.”

So I did.

Then the next day… I read it again.

The day after that I just gave up and reread the whole thing again. Including the end.

Twice.

Guys, this went on for a few days… which does NOT include the fact that I have been  listening to CHICAGO by Sufjan Stevens (which is the song Adam listens to on the bridge when he’s finially coming to terms with the last three years of his existence) on repeat ALL WEEK (I also threw Casimir Pulaski Day in there because it fits).

Eventually I started to realize that this was a bit odd..  Sure, I re-read a lot and I have been known to get obsessive *coughLEGENDcough* but this, this was not my normal brand of weird. I mean  it wasn’t the romance I was clinging to… I had just read the Outlander series and re-read These Broken Stars which are both way more up my ally with reasonably EPIC, top notch, swoony romances. Oh and then there’s the fact that despite all this oddness it hadn’t really changed my overall assessment of the book which was to say: I thought it was sweet but I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to strangers on the street (really, I do that).

At some point I accepted that something was going on… Obviously the book had resonated with me ..But why? What was I searching for in all that re-reading?

What it boiled down to was Adam.  More specifically it was the whole discussion that the author was having through the character of Adam about anxiety and the ownership of grief. Of course it didn’t hurt that Adam was having this fascinating internal dialogue in a perfectly awesome mix of self depreciating sarcasm and awkward arrogance. (I don’t know if y’all know this but I am a sucker for sarcasm). Anyway… back to the very deep philophisizing I’m trying to do here..

First of all: It’s probably an understatement to say I’m familiar with anxiety. All those slightly uncomfortable and maybe even pathetic scenes where Adam is practically in a relationship with his anxiety pills… I’ve been there. It’s not pretty or romantic and it DOES make you feel weak or even worse, out of control.

In fact the whole description of living in a low to high level state of anxiety was pretty accurate.. I’ve seen plenty of people fall down a hole like that. Hell I’ve clearly journeyed into the vortex once or twice myself.. and just like Adam most of us who find ourselves on that hamster wheel are hellishly aware of what’s going on. We know it would be easier for everyone if we could just take a few breaths, go for a run, gain some perspective and deal with our shit.. but we don’t. Or we can’t. And then we admonish ourselves for being ridiculous and the hole just gets deeper.

But I think even more interesting (to me at least) was that while a lot of Adam’s experience of anxiety was instantly recognizable and even familiar it was also inextricably tied up in his lingering grief. You see, the author doesn’t tackle the concept of grief from the classic perspective of the person who is keenly experiencing a great loss (that was obviously the first book) but rather the aftermath of those who are close to the loss, or even directly effected by it but still feel that it is not theirs to own… Which is tough and often goes undiscussed. In fact until this book I don’t think I personally have seen someone put words to that experience. But we’ve all been there yeah?

Lastly, there was the fact that we were in the mind of a character who is experiencing something that all of us who have ever stood at the bottom of a metaphorically insurmountable mountain and decided to start the climb fear… That we will reach the top, achieve our dreams, make everyone proud and it won’t be enough. Because the the truth that we carry in the quietest part of our soul is that it was never about the goal, that life is what happens along the way but you have to choose to notice it. Or even more terrifying that somewhere in the climb you will lose yourself to the mountain…I don’t know if Adam was quite there yet but the potent cocktail of depression, grief and a level of success he was not prepared to deal with made me think it wasn’t at all unrealistic to envision a character that was emotionally stuck in a black hole.

Which I suspect is why I was so content with the oh so beautifully gift wrapped ending of this story.. Because it wasn’t really a book about Adam and Mia forgiving each other and falling in love again. It was, for me at least, more than that. It was a story about a person beginning to come to terms with their darkness, accepting responsibility and moving forward.

And yes, I suppose the realist in me would have preferred it had been a bit more clear that it wasn’t the “Happily Ever After” with Mia that was going to fix him… But from a storytelling perspective this started out as Adam and Mia’s story and I really don’t think this part of it could have been told without them both. Sure, Mia and Adam could have gone their separate ways on that bridge and I think we would have still understood that Adam had found peace, but the story had to continue because well… it wasn’t finished.  Perhaps just like Adam, some of us needed closure (I mean why the heck else do you think I bought and read the second half of a story that I hadn’t bothered with before!!).

Right well… there you have it. I am nuts (which you knew). And maybe also a little bit of a romantic who appreciates it when the thought storm ends with a neatly packaged happily ever after (don’t tell anyone though..it might ruin my image). Look, I don’t know if i’ve mentioned this before.. but I love, love, LOVE it when a book makes me think like this.. granted…I generally prefer it if I actually LOVED the book but hey, sometimes bookish life lessons come in odd packages yeah?

And yes…. I am STILL listening to Sufjan Stevens…. did you know he’s coming out with a new album??? Squeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

Now I know I’ve been gone for a bit… but I’m super curious here…and if you’re out there reading I’d love to chat because I can’t possible be the only one who has fallen down a book rabbit hole like this right??? 

So if this has happened to you I’d love to hear about it!!  What was the book?? Was it a book you already loved or like me did you find something that spoke to you in an unexpected place??

P.S… I’ve missed y’all…

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What the heck happened to LilaJune. (And of course BOOKS!)

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Hello, hello bloggers and bookworms alike!

I feel a little guilty for falling off the face of the blog world and failing in my duties as a consistent blogger and more importantly (to me at least) an active and supportive blog friend to some of the amazing blogs I follow!

 Here’s what happened: I started medical school.

 Turns out, the rumors are true and it really IS the hardest thing I’ve ever done (thus far). I guess that’s good right? I mean you WANT your doctor to know her stuff (though at the moment I have come to the terrifying realization that I know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about ANYTHING. EVER) I guess it would be a little frightening if med school was “easy” yeah? Well never fear, I can assure you it’s not! 😉

 Seriously y’all…..gross anatomy (ie: Cadaver Lab) is just….well….lets just say it requires every last ounce of my Erudite AND Dauntless skillzzzz.

 Anyway enough about that, while I am currently on a self imposed internet/pleasure reading hiatus I DO plan to come back at some point (once I figure out what the heck I’m doing…please god PLEASE let that be sometime soon!) and in the meantime I wanted to share with you a few of the books I had a chance to read over the summer but didn’t manage to blog about.

 At some point (hopefully in the not too distant future) I will write up more complex discussions on these treasures. But for now here are a few mini reviews of my summer reads!

 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

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This.

Book.

Oh my gosh.

This book DID something to me. I can’t even describe what I felt like while I was reading it…Some odd combination of heartbroken and born again on every single page. Guys, I kid you not, this book read like music. You know that feeling you get when you are carried away by the haunting notes of violin? That was how I felt. I can’t remember a book ever making me feel quite like that before….it was truly extraordinary.

So basically…you should read it.

 The Marbury Lens and Passenger

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So, I read Grasshopper Jungle and thought Well that was awesome. Lets see what else this guy can do. Turns out, Smith is just all round pretty amazing. The Marbury series was a perfect mix of supernatural/SciFi adventure meets a HOLY HELL this shit just got REAL coming of age story. They were pretty incredible and also deeply disturbing. I loved them.

Winger

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What can I say…I was on an Andrew Smith kick. In all seriousness though he is a truly unique and extraordinary author. Winger is a little different in that it SEEMS less dark and deep compared to Grasshopper Jungle and The Marbury Lens series. And in many way it is, except well…Winger is one of those books that lulls you into believing you are reading one type of story and then hits you over the head with a whale sized frying pan and suddenly you realize that the “real” story has been happening all along. It’s also dirty, innocent, honorable and sacrilegious in a way that only Andrew Smith can write.

 A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night and The Book of Life.

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I HATED the first oh…maybe HALF of the first book. Truly it almost became my first DNF of the year… It was maybe a weeeeeeeeeee bit too reminiscent of Twilight for about a minute there (a really Looooonnnng minute where I was all “is this shit for real?!?!?! Lady you are 33! Stop the teen romance crap!) and then suddenly without warning…BOOM!! I was in love with them (SEE Insta-love is for real y’all!!!). I think the second book (where they spend a lot of time in a SUPER well written/researched version of Elizabethan England) really sod it for me. Also BOTH the “overprotective-vampire” character and the “Super-smart-not-totally-comfortable-with-herself-but-very-powerful-witch” heroine really grow and change. I do so love character development.

Ok…and romance…sometimes I just like a good romance.

ALSO, I kinda loved that the 30 somethings got a chance to be kickass and save the world with their awesome superpowers for once.. It’s nice to be reminded that life does not end at 20. (THANK HEAVENS!!!!)

These Broken Stars.

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So I really, really loved that this book stood on it’s own. Sure I’d always love to have just a teeny tiny bit more of any story but at the end of the day it’s nice when a book feels finished. The other thing I appreciated about this book was that I thought I was reading a nice fluffy little romance until all of a sudden I found myself having deep conversations about the nature of life and death with my husband (and anyone else who would listen). There are some really tough (and fascinating) questions asked in this relatively simple science fiction/romance story and for that reason alone I’ve added it to my list of favorites.

 The Seven Realms Series.

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I DEVOURED this series over the course of a week while on vacation with my family in North Carolina. These books are classically awesome examples of fantasy. I’ve heard them called “Game of Thrones light” and while that is certainly not an unfair label (considering all the politics and the fantasy setting) they are more comparable to Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown (a personal favorite). In other words, there is a STRONG female lead and a great story to carry you through the series and I would highly recommend them to anyone who loves a good fantasy series.

 

Right, well…I haven’t actually put much of a dent in my Books I Read and Loved list but I’m beginning to feel guilty for not studying my histology… Turns out I really NEED to be able to tell the difference between a  Mast Cell and Basophil by monday.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Ugh.

So I think I’ll leave you for now and beg your forgiveness for being a crappy blogger.

Hopefully I’ll be back in the not too distant future to chat about books once more…There is a whole LIST of books I am just dying to read that are coming out in the next few months!!!

Have the loveliest of weekends everyone, happy reading!!! (I’m really trying not to be jealous…trying and failing).

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^ This is a totally accurate dipiction of a first year medical student . 

 

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Top Ten Characters on my, um “Recreational” Island.

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish this weeks theme is Top Ten Characters I want with me on a desert island. Soooooooo… A while back I did Top Ten Characters I’d want with me in a Zombie Apocalypse… If I was really and truly trapped on an island and had any hope of survival or escape that would probably be my actual list (I put thought into that one and gave well postulated reasons for why I chose the characters I did.)  This one well, this one is more reflective of that other island I mentioned in my Guardian review….

Yep, this is the naughty island! *Pg13 rating and all that jazz*

 

Four: I am going to call him Four because it’s so much more Mmmmmmmmmm…. The Divergent series might not be in my top ten  dystopias but Four remains my favorite book boyfriend. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think it’s the Chicago boy thing… So in a way I’m kinda picking a guy like my husband first! Which obviously obsolves me of guilt for the rest!! (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) Now let’s look at Theo James beautiful chest.

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Perry & Roar: Under the Never Sky Series They count as two but I’d like them served together please. Perry and Roar work SO well together in the books I always thought Aria was missing out on a delicious opportunity. (P.S. It was absurdly hard…I mean difficult…to find a picture like this with two guys that was not XXX rated. So pretend there are two of them K?)

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Day: Legend Series This one requires a qualifier. I don’t want to spoil books or anything but it simply MUST be last chapter Champion Day that gets delivered to my island… The Legend girls will understand. (I have been looking for a Day type for months unsuccessfully. Pretend this guy has blonde hair I guess…. though personally I think this guy will work just fine ; ) )

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Katniss: Hunger Games What? This is my naughty island!! But I’ll be totally honest it has to be movie Katniss who shows up… If I had a girl type (which apparently I do) JLaw would be it.

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Also Daenerys Targaryen: Game of Thrones etc. Same song, add some dragons.

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Superman: Man of Steel Ummmmm I KNOW it’s not a book… I’m not even sure how I felt about the movie except that I watched it thrice because I couldn’t concentrate on the plot round one OR two. I’m just being honest with you about who’s on this island y’all.

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Speaking of which Thor: because, isn’t he on YOURS!?!? I just about melted off my seat during this scene in that last movie! Also, he does have a face…Its a very nice face….I just can’t recall why that matters.

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Stephen Salvatore: The Vampire Diaries WAIT! I don’t want to get into a shipping war with fellow TVD fans (and after last week I know you’re out there!) I could lie and tell you it’s purely book Stephen I’m talking about but the truth is book Damon is totally delicious. Basically, two things come in to play here:

1) I’m trying to balance out all the bad asses on the island. (Even though Ripper Stephen was Mmmmmmm.)

2)Damon has NO chin. I need my island boys to have chins…. I don’t know why but I’m picky like that.

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Sturmhond: The Grisha Trilogy I did not love this series and I truly despised the men in these books except for Sturmhond (who looks like Orlando Bloom in my head). He is smart and sassy and of course wildly attractive. Welcome to the island pirate prince!

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Ok well, that was fun (and slightly embarrassing). Also I need to work on my Google skills because it was a truly…interesting experience trying to find pictures for this post. I almost gave up quite frankly.

So now that I’m done objectifying men (and a few ladies) tell me, what was on your list this week?? Were you perhaps a bit more practical or is your island just as delicious as mine?! Leave me your link in the comments so I can check it out!

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Top Ten Tuesday. Non-bookish entertainment.

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Aggggggggghhhhhhhhhh!!!!! I don’t think I like this one!!! For some reason I have no problem whatsoever confessing all my bookish obsessions to anyone who will listen, but TV shows make me want to hide my head under a rock in shame. Anyway, I’ve resolved to do TTT regularly while I still can SO here we go!!

This week on Top Ten Tuesday (that most excellent meme hosted by the most amazing bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish) the theme is Top Ten favorite movies or TV shows. *Sigh* When I was little, my mother didn’t allow us to watch TV (except for the news because our father worked in news…. I actually think this contributed to my firm belief that at least 50% of all children got kidnapped at some point but that’s besides the point.)  At some moment in time however, I did become obsessed with a few forms of entertainment other that books. The following list represents my current favorites.

 

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The Walking Dead: Dear Everyone, It may suprise you to know that I actually hate zombies. Hate, hate, hate , hate them. Gah!!! For years and years they stalked my nightmares threatening to overwhelm my life with their cannibalistic plague. Truth be told, they still do. But once I started dating the guy I now refer to as my husband I had to grow a thicker skin and deal with zombies because he LOVES them. But I generally did so by hiding my head in my hands and screaming I HATE ZOMBIES I HATE ZOMBIES I HATE ZOMBIES every time some zombie came on screen and started eating someone (Ok, I might still do this but I do it with more excitement and less fear these days.) Then one day along came The Walking Dead with all its amazing character development and world building and suddenly I wasn’t just tolerating zombies, I was hooked. This might actually be my favorite show these days. Even if it still terrifies me sometimes.

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Game of Thrones: I loved the books. I love the show. Nuff said. Except its ME and I just have to say a little more…. This is one of those rare show/movie/book conversion thingys  where I almost prefer the show.. “WHAT!? SACRILEGE!!!” You cry. “But LilaJune, we’re BOOK people!” I know, I know… But for whatever reason I felt like the show (or the actors) gave life to some of the characters and story-lines I didn’t much care about when I was reading the series. Also, the series is visually STUNNING. Also, I want to BE The Khaleesi.

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Hannibal: Though I haven’t seen this season at all. I think my husband, who LOVES scary stories, is actually too creeped out by this show. Mwahahahahahaha. Hopefully I’ll catch up soonish, I heard this season was… heart stopping. (Too much? yeah, sorry, sometimes I think I’m clever.)

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The Vampire Diaries: Sooooooooooooooooo I used to really enjoy long distance buddy watching this one with my little sister. She and I would do girly things and text each other while we watched the residents of Mystic Falls battle yet another Big Bad. It was fun for us. But then, this year happened…. UGH!!! The show just completely jumped the shark (honestly that might have happened in season 4) I mean really, how many times can everyone die and be resurrected? And what was this season about even? Basically I gave up and my sis and I will just have to go back to talking about books.

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Elementary: This show is hilarious and smart and touching and awesome. I’ve read many of the original Conan Doyle Holmes stories and while I’m sure purists face palm regularly I think this series does a great job of humanizing Sherlock while maintaining the integrity of his character.

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Sherlock: I guess I like Sherlock Holmes shows??? This one is maybe more true to the spirit of the original short stories.

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Vikings: That opening. *Sigh* Guys, if you don’t know what I’m talking about you should go look it up. Better yet, here’s a link!! Pretty much it sets you up for awesome, which fortunately the show is. 🙂

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Basically most SyFy channel shows with monsters or aliens or sometimes even Science: Being Human, Defiance, Warehouse 13, Haven.. blah, blah, blah this is kinda a long list. I could burn ALL my brain cells watching the SyFy channel!

Speaking of Science….I’m a pretty big fan of Niel deGrasse Tyson and his series

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 Cosmos: It’s beautiful and informative and I always love learning from someone who is clearly SO passionately in love with what they teach.

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ALL THE SUPERHERO MOVIES: Ummm, yeah. I know some are better than others but I really, really enjoy going to see them all. “Is for fun.” (That’s a Nacho Libre quote… not quite a super hero, but kinda a hilarious movie.)

 

Yep, yep, yep. Thats my list for this week. I’m not quite as embarrassed as I thought I’d be but I DO feel a bit like a dirty mindless TV zombie (not the awesome Walking Dead kind). Although, sometimes the reading I do isn’t a strictly intelectual mind enriching sport either.

ANYWAY, I want to see your lists!! Maybe leave a link in the comments so I can check them out and we can chit chat?? 

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Grasshopper Jungle. Lets talk about bugs, sex and the apocalypse!!

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Glory be!!! I am thrilled and delighted to report that the gods of storytelling hath smiled upon me and nearly every single book I’ve picked up recently has been like bound gold. Gah!! I don’t even know what to DO with all this book happiness!

Oh, hey, I know… Lets talk about Grasshopper Jungle because that shit was NUTS. And AMAZING. And… jhfdghdarihihpojdkndhpiwjbhdfgh’lon. Which is over-caffinated LilaJune for: “I did not sleep last night because I could not get this damn book out of my head and now I’ve had a lot of coffee and I just have to tell you how much I loved everything about this book ever”.

And I did. I loved it. Every thing about it. Ever.

So where to begin?? Well, I suppose I could tell you what it was about but the truth is I am not completely sure. I guess it was about that one time, when the giant bug creatures hatched out of human hosts and ended the world.

But it wasn’t really….

Maybe it was about Austin, a 16yo HELLA confused and sexually charged Polish Lutheran boy in small town Iowa who’s every other thought is about sex, his balls, sex, his penis, sex, sperm, cigarettes, his girlfriend’s breasts, sex, history, his best friend’s lips, sex, a threesome with his girlfriend AND his best friend… Wait, did I mention something about sex? Actually he has a lot of really insightful things to say. Sometimes they are even not about sex.

But it wasn’t really…

Maybe it was about the history of humanity. Who we are, how we came to be and the rules that have defined our society and shaped our relationships. Or how our personal family history has a way of creeping into our lives and coloring our personalities.

But it wasn’t that either…

What it really was, was all of those things; collected, mushed up, shredded, stirred and buried like kimchi in a great clay pot in the earth to ferment. Which you can’t imagine would ever turn out to be a good idea but once you dig it out somehow it is. And now you’re all ‘LilaJ what the hell do you know about making kimchi??’ Well, the answer is not one bloody thing. I just know it looks a little sketchy but damn is it good!! And that’s my point about the book.

Somewhere, somehow, all those flavors; the bug apocalypse, sexual confusion, history lesson, beautiful best friend with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, hot girlfriend, mad scientist, Casimir Pulaski and the brother in Iraq,  blended together into a magically coherent, almost mind bogglingly normal coming of age story about a boy who’s just taking life one day at a time.

I’m still not really sure what I read but I think it was something about the normalcy (a word that generally makes me cringe) encased in all that crazy (like a giant praying mantiss about to violently hatch out of a human host) that won me over. Or maybe it was the apocalypse. I do kinda love a good apocalypse. I certainly spend an inordinate amout of time thinking about it.

Either way, for all his angst about not being normal Austin struck me as one of the most honestly written, normal teenage boy characters I have ever read. Which frightens me actually. And explains A LOT about what was going on in my high school boyfriend’s head all those years ago (suddenly SO many things make SO much sense). To test my theory at one point I turned to my trusty husband and was all “Is this shit for real?” He confirmed it was. Actually, he went into great detail about it, ACK!! So now I’m really glad I never had to BE a teenage boy.

Speaking of honesty, can I just tell you how utterly refreshing it was to read the word sex in a young adult novel? Truly. Sometimes I don’t understand how death and violence are deemed A-ok but sex has us tiptoeing around like Foxface in a minefield (That was a Hunger Games ref btw… you know, that book where all the children died violently but the physicality was super chaste. Except for that one veiled reference to maaaaayyyybe sex at the end?? I’m NOT bashing HG…. I love HG I’m just sayin…) Of course not all books are romances and even the ones that are certainly don’t NEED sex… I’m just occasionally a little mystified by some of the creative euphemisms authors use when their characters DO have sex.

You see, I remember being 16 and I know 16yo’s spend plenty of time thinking about and discussing sex. So while I personally was a bit more like Shann, contemplating it in my journal and trying to act super mature and not at all freaked out. Rather than Austin, who seemed to think about almost nothing else. I think it’s safe to say that its not a foreign concept. In fact sometimes I think all that flowery language that precedes everything going swimmingly (sperm pun in honor of Austin totally intended) and never awkward or so fast it barely registers or painful, creates slightly unrealistic expectations. Guys, I’m sorry if this is TMI but I have never ever spoken to a single girl who’s “first time” was perfect… we were all a bit like Shann. And the guys, well, most of them seem generally pleased but I think it can be a bit confusing and messy for everyone. Basically, I loved how Smith dealt with sex. True, it was fairly vulgar but it also struck me as pretty realistic.

And then there was the writing style. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but as a blogger/book discusser I sometimes struggle to stay on track (Whhhaaaaaattt?!! I KNOW, you’re shocked!) Truth is, I write the way I think. Which I suppose is tantamount to admitting that my brain is a nonlinear clusterfuck…. (Go ahead ASK me about getting the song Casimir Pulaski Day stuck in my head for days after reading this book even though it’s not remotely appropriate!) Well let me tell you, to a nonlinear person reading this book felt like breathing pure oxygen. The way all those stories and thoughts went on their own little journeys, only to do a few loop de loops and then circle on back to weave themselves into one rich and perfectly coherent story was extraordinary. I’d be going along thinking I was reading a somewhat slapstick book about growing up in small town america and the bug apocalypse. When BAM Smith would throw is some heartbreaking story about Austin’s ancestors or his older brother in Iraq and I would suddenly become a LilaJune puddle of feelings.

Oh, and lets not forget that Austin and Robby were beaten up Chapter 1 for being gay. An incident that had far reaching effects ie: directly involved in the birth of the giant world conquering bugs and somewhat less directly responsible for Austin spiraling into a sea of confusion. Because while Robby is gay Austin…. Ya know, I’m still not sure. By the end I got the impression that Austin had decided categorizing his sexuality wasn’t that important. He seemed at peace with himself and he had a lot more pressing things to worry about (like the survival of humanity and all that nonsense). I don’t know if Shann OR Robby totally agree but like Austin, they had other stuff on their plates (definitely NOT testicle dissolving genetically modified corn).

So about Robby and Shann and that sneaky little love triangle.

Robby, Robby Robby…Damn near impossible not love Robby Brees (Austin agrees…honestly I think Shann does too). I found myself wondering over and over if Robby was as put together as he seemed or if Austin just saw him that way. If we had been given a glimpse into Robby’s head would it have been as tumultuous as Austin’s? I don’t know, but I kinda can’t blame Austin for operating under the assumption that Robby had all the answers. Unfortunately I think thats exactly why Austin kept hurting him. Of course even though Robby might have been a bit more mature or rational he wasn’t about to let his best friend take advantage of him. Sure, he loved Austin despite his occasional douchebagery but he didn’t let him get away with being a jerk and I appreciated that. Also he was ridiculously cool.

If Robby was something of an enigma to me Shann was eerily familiar. I don’t know if I recognized myself in her per say so much as 16yo girls everywhere. See, round about that age is the time we start thinking of ourselves as future ‘Women‘ and start trying to workout what that might mean (For the record, I’ll let you know if I ever figure it out). Shann was definitely doing the precarious balancing act between being a good Lutheran daughter (something I am intimately familiar with) and venturing outside the comfort zone of her family.

So about the love triangle.. I’ll admit I didn’t even think of what was going on between Robby, Austin and Shann as a love triangle until I saw it described that way. It’s not that it didn’t have some classic triangular features so much as once Shann and Robby figured out Austin was being a bit of a jerk neither of them felt particularly inclined to play that game. Far too often the object of affection in one of these dreaded geometrical threesomes is worshiped despite the fact that they are emotionally or physically cheating on one love interest and stringing along the other. So while Austin might be guilty of those things Robby and Shann display enough self respect to call him out on it. Whew!!!

And what about the resolution? The bug apocalypse? The hope for humanity Hmmmmmmmmmmm….. Well, I’m really trying to avoid spoilers here so lets just say for a rather outrageous book the end was fairly rational as far as apocalypse scenarios go (I am sort of an apocalypse connoisseur you know).

So, it all comes down to this: would I recommend this book? Well…while the answer to that question is a resounding HELLS YEAH!!! I freaking loved this book (Loved it enough to order it from the Indi shop in the hospital even though I already owned it on Kindle, not to mention, give the owner the third degree for not having it to begin with). I might also be more selective about who I recommended it to than I generally am.

First off, you simply must have a sense of humor and a certain appreciation for outrageousness (Hellloooo did I mention the giant bug creatures that take over the world?). But even if you’re normally a fan of realism I think you could love this book so long as you approach it with an open mind (and maybe some wine). Sometimes the best stories and the most thought provoking ideas are gift-wrapped in crazy.

So here’s what I think… GO READ THIS BOOK!!!!! (If you’re in Chicago you can purchase it at NMH, I heard they have a few copies now ; ) )

 

So is this book on your list??? (If you’ve ever read and loved anyone like Christopher Moore it definitely should be!) Oh and hey! If you’ve read Grasshopper Jungle I’m slightly desperate for someone to discuss it with! Plus, I think I need to read more from Andrew Smith… anyone got suggestions for which one I should pick up next?

 

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