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?

 

Posted in Book Reviews, Discussions, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Top Ten Tuesday. Confessions of a terrible blogger and book nerd.

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Top Ten Tuesday is my favorite (and only) weekly meme hosted by the beautiful bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is Top Ten Blogging confessions. Even though I was raised as a good little Lutheran girl theres nothing I like more than a good old fashioned confession!!! So without further adu ima bust out my forbidden rosary and dive on in.

Blog Confessions

Confession #1: I love this topic because I didn’t have to go hunting all over the internet for book covers. Seriously, that stuff takes me something like eternity and I STILL never manage to make them look good in my lists.

Confession #2: I am jealous of all the blogs I follow/read regularly because they all make these listy things look gorgeous…always. I’m not kidding. If you are a blogger and we have had any sort of interaction I am probably all swoony and green with envy over your lovely blog. I’m sorry!! I mean that very nicely I swear!

Confession #3: I’m too gosh darned lazy to do anything about it! “Gee… I wonder how people make those pretty book cover collages or change the size & color of their font?? Hmm, I suppose I could google it? Nah!! I’ll just stick with what I’ve got…” Yep, thats me.

Confession #4: I’m a TERRIBLE book “reviewer”. I know this. Sometimes I even feel bad about it because I like reading other bloggers legit book reviews. But the truth is, I’d much rather have a long rambley discussion about the things a book made me think about than it’s plot. I know this is probably only entertaining if you’ve read the book I’m talking about so I’ve been working on trying to find a happy medium. Let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions!!!!

Confession #5: I have no schedule. Ever. In my head I’d like to do one review/discussion and TTT every week….. that just doesn’t happen. Actually, the more I try to be organized the more likely I am to fall off the bloggy wagon all together. But I’ve decided to forgive myself and let it go. I’m about to start medical school at the end of this month and I truly have no idea what that will mean for my reading life. So I’ll consider it a blessing when I have a chance to read a few good books and blog about them. I hope you’ll forgive me if I disappear for a bit while I figure out how to not fail out of med school! 🙂

 

Book Nerd Confessions

Confession #1: I re-read CONSTANTLY. So, so, so, sooooooo much re-reading goes on in my life. If every book I read was a book I had never read before I would be like a freaking literary genius or something. As it is, I definitely have a comfort zone.  Once a book has fallen into my hands and proved itself awesome chances are I’ll revisit it at least once…or twice…or once a year for the past 15 years  as has been the case with Harry Potter. Sometimes I feel guilty about this habit… So MANY lovely books and SO little time. But.. much like blogging at the end of the day, reading is something I do for me and the joy I get from diving into a well loved world is worth the guilt.

Confession #2: I collect books… Who doesn’t right?? Well, here’s the thing…I tend to “accidentally” collect multiple copies and editions of the same book. I mean obviously if you happen to be an obsessive re-reader you need to have your favorite books in Kindle AND hardcover but you probably don’t need the hardcover AND paperback editions… BUT I DO!!!! I NEED them. I need all the books (in triplicate). I’m well aware that this isn’t a particularly fiscally responsible habit… But HEY I’m supporting authors right?? In my defense I also give books away whenever I know I have someone’s soulmate book on my shelf.

Confession #3: Even though I collect books I’m not remotely organized about it. We have four floor to ceiling bookshelves in our house and the books on them are not in any particular order. The only exception is that most of the series books I have are all together.. oh, and the Harry Potter shelf… cuz I HAD to have a Harry Potter shelf. Also, a lot of my books are in a sorry state (due to all that re-reading) I know that’s like sacrilege to some book people *hangs head in shame*.

Confession#4: I have become a bit addicted to the book community on Twitter. Ick!! I kinda hate Twitter but alas it’s sucked away a bit of my soul. In many, many ways it’s actually a great place to follow other blogs and read interesting articles but sometimes the “drama” (like that one article) sucks me in. I hate that. I’m too old for that junk! The other ugly thing about social media is that sometimes authors you have/had great respect for disappoint you. I know it’s not fair but I want my favorite authors to be just as wise as the beautiful characters they create… So if they’re whining about the person who sat next to them at Starbucks (seriously, text your BFF about that shit) or saying accidentally ignorant things about readers I’m not super impressed… Like I said, I KNOW that’s not fair but I’m just as human as they are.

Confession #5: I am secretly terrified that I will actually fail out of school because of my book addiction. I’m fairly certain this won’t happen but I’m not entirely joking either…

 

So there you have it!!! Confession over. Time to go say a few hail Mary’s and pray for my bookish soul!

What was on your list this week?? Feel free to leave me your link so I can check it out! From what I’ve seen so far Blog guilt seems to be a thing.

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Top Ten Tuesday. My Childhood Classics

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish.  This weeks theme is Top Ten Classics I want to read/have read.

Okeedokee so here’s the thing, I’ve been thinking a lot about children’s books lately. And while I’ve read a plenty of classic classics which are often gloriously FREE or very cheap on kindle (The Bronte sisters, Austin, Dracula, Portrait of Dorian Grey and A shit ton of Shakespeare are among my favorites). There are infinitely more on my TBR list (20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Fahrenheit 451…honestly this list goes on forever.). Yet when I started contemplating this week’s topic I couldn’t help but think about all the classics from my childhood.. or at least all the books I consider my own “classics”.

Because really, why do we read the classics?? To me the answer is simply; they teach us something about life and literature, remind us where we’ve been and help us figure out where to go next. That being said I can’t think of a better way to fill this list than with all the books that have done that for me.

PICTURE BOOKS

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Eloise: Kay Thompson “An egg cup makes a very good hat” I just love this book (still) because Eloise is  full of life and mischief and imagination. She may be a bit of a brat but she’s an extraordinary one.

Miss Rumphius: Barbara Cooney “You must do something to make the world more beautiful.”  That’s the message in this gorgeously illustrated book. Sweet and simple but it’s a lesson I think of often as I forge ahead into my adult life.

Grandfather Twilight: Barbara BergerGrandfather Twilight lives among the trees.” Basically this book is just plain beautiful. Stunning imagery that gets more and more gorgeous as the story unfurls.

The Big Orange Splot: Daniel Pinkwater “My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams.” To this day this book remains my mother’s all time favorite story and life motto. And while the story is pretty outrageous what it boils down to is nothing more or less than “Be yourself.” Pretty classic life lesson if you ask me.

Where the Wild Things Are: Maurice Sendak “Let the wild rumpus start!” Ummm isn’t this on your childhood classic list?? Who wasn’t a bit like Max from time to time?

NEWBERRYS (Apparently I was a pretentious child.)

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Island of the Blue Dolphins: Scott O’Dell This is the first book I became truly obsessed with. I ran around for months in my backyard trying to make clothes out of nature and pretending I was all alone in the world. I even tried to make my own bow and arrows…fortunately for the local wildlife, I was unsuccessful. I still have my original copy, which is an actual ORIGIONAL copy that I inherited from a library book sale. I think I will love this one forever.

A Wrinkle in Time: Madeline L’Engle I’ve mentioned this one before but I just couldn’t leave it off this list. A Wrinkle in Time had a HUGE and far reaching impact on my life. It ignited my imagination and encouraged my to ask extraordinary questions and believe in impossible answers.

Bridge to Terabithia: Katherine Paeterson. This was the first book that ever broke my heart. While it’s full of endless summers and rich imagination it’s probably the reason I STILL can’t face books like The Fault in our Stars.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond: Elizabeth George Speare This one found me at a time when I really needed to hear exactly this story (Somewhere in middle-school where I was the quintessential social outcast). Books have a way of doing that ya know? It’s why I never assume someone is joking when they say a book saved their life.

The Egypt Game: Zilpha Keatley Snyder Are you noticing a theme here?? I was kinda a fan of imaginary worlds and playing pretend… This is a gorgeous book, rich in imagination and plenty of tough questions. Every time I read this book (which I still do regularly) I am blown away by it’s amazing brilliance.

 

Well there you have it… I know I might have cheated a weeeeee bit but that’s my list. If you were going to make a list of your childhood classics what would they be???

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guardian.

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A few months ago I read Proxy after it was recommended to me by my fellow fangirl and blogging buddy Nath over at One Woman’s Opinions. I was stunned. Blown away. Emotionally ravaged and pretty much all round thrilled by the gorgeousness of story telling perfection. Proxy was just… beautiful. *Sigh*

Fair warning: This discussion contains Proxy spoilers so if you haven’t read it already.. which, WHY HAVENT YOU READ IT??? be warned. And if you missed my subtle suggestion to go buy Proxy immediately or you’re still on the fence you can check out my thoughts on it here.

Now y’all KNOW I love a series but I confess, I wasn’t sure how one writes a sequel to something as complete as Proxy. In truth, the story felt told. Sure, there were a few unanswered questions in my nit-picky little head and I definitely wanted Syd to have a real first kiss! But after closing the book and emerging from my state of stunned silence I experienced a rare sense of satisfaction. The symmetry of Knox’s sacrifice just left me all weak in the knees and singing songs of love and adoration to London and the gods of storytelling and whatnot.  So it’s safe to say I approached Guardian with equal amounts trepidation and excitement.

If Proxy was a story of brotherhood, sacrifice and debt exploration; Guardian, was at it’s core, a love story seasoned with lessons in forgiveness and the dangers of ideology.  I don’t know if that’s what London set out to write but that’s what I experienced. And for me, that was more than ok. It still made me think, ask questions and feel things. That being said, a good love story never hurts…

Lawd have mercy on my soul, cuz ima bout to get all swoony here.

Part of what kept me up ALL NIGHT reading (and zombified the next day) was watching the cautious and confusing relationship develop between Liam and Syd. The way they grew into each other in this story felt so authentic and, lets be honest completely freaking adorable that it had me literally, physically engaged. Seriously, at one point my husband caught me perched up on the back of my reading chair with my hand pressed to my heart making swoony noises at the book and he was all ‘Are you CRYING?’ and I was all ‘NO you heartless toad I’m SIGHING. There’s a difference. Now go back to painting your mini’s and leave me alone to drown in this ocean of feelings.‘ (We are pretty much both crazy..it’s kinda why our marriage works.)

Anyway, Syd and Liam’s love story had all the sweetness and painful awkwardness of any first love. Well, any post-apocolyptic, humanity is on the precipice of total decimation first love…cuz you know you’ve got to be willing to let some things go in those circumstances. So your boyfriend is a ruthless assassin?? Hmm. Well thats probably a pretty useful apocalypse skill!

Speaking of LIAM….

About 3 minutes after I met Liam he was shipped off to my personal island of  book boyfriends. Oh yes, there’s an island. (they are OBVIOUSLY all aged up to at LEAST 27 on my island…that part of the magic and yes…. I’m aware Liam is not swinging in my direction but unrealisitc book boyfriends are equal opportunity when it comes to unrequited love.) What can I say? I guess I’m a sucker for love and undying devotion swathed in badassery. There was also that soul crushing bit of loneliness that makes people like me shout things like “I want to know your story Liam!!!” at their books (really, I’m a very interactive reader).

While there were moments in the beginning when I was uncomfortable with Liam’s zelous obsession with Syd or more specifically Yovel. Liam’s journey from devoted protector (dare I say… Guardian?)  to valued partner was at the heart of what I loved about this book. His character arc was beautiful and if we dig into our collective psyche pretty darn relatable (minus the assassin thing).  Truth is, we live in a world that makes it outrageously easy to idolize your favorite author/actor/musician/artist/stupid hot soccer player….you get my point…  And while celebrating art and achievement (and even obsessing a bit) is wonderful it’s easy to create some sort of mythical deity out of those we admire.

Throughout the course of Guardian Liam, who is (not so secretly) a Yovel disciple, must face the reality of Syd, who is by no means happy playing savior. While Syd remains the strong and subtly wise character we (and everyone else) fell for in Proxy he is also a little broken and, understandably, riddled with guilt. (KNOXXXXX!! What? I’m not over it. And neither is Syd.) As a result, Liam was forced to dissect his feelings for Syd and separate the mythology from the person. Turns out that on the other side of obsession were the seeds of a lovely honest relationship. Something about learning to love and value someone even when they disappoint you seems like an ideal life lesson. Though perhaps more importantly Liam, begins to learn how to value himself . *Dies of happiness*

So the other character that just filled my soul with joy was Marie. I’ll admit, Marie was the loose end for me in Proxy.  Perhaps because I really saw myself in her (and not in the most flattering way). Marie had all the right intentions and none of the wisdom needed to step back and assess her crusade. It can be painful to realize that righteous indignation with a dollop of crusading has a way of turning you into exactly the type of close minded, frustrating, ideologist you thought you were fighting against. Marie is the epitome of that character. Throughout Proxy and well into Guardian she is fighting a war against injustice while failing to see the cracks it is leaving in her own humanity. Fortunately, this time Marie is faced with a set of circumstances so personal she simply can’t ignore the flaws in her beliefs. Thus she is set down a path of self discovery that ultimately leads to growth, forgiveness and hopefully a bit of grace. I guess there’s hope for us soap-boxy types after all! Whew! And can I get an AMEN?!

Basically there was a lot of growth and forgiveness to go around in this book. Syd had to face his future, Liam his past and Marie the reality of the present. Not to mention the hard learned lesson that there are no easy fixes. Of course there was also plenty of action and adventure to balance out all this very important thinky stuff. Oh, and one heck of a frightening villain as my sister put it: “He’s the bad guy you know you’ve met. The one who lives in your nightmares.” Umm yes. Also, the med student in me was pretty thrilled with the biogenetic consequences of turning off the machine. Yay, science!

So about the end: At first I was all  WHAT??!!! Wait, NO! THERE HAS TO BE MORE. And then I took a breath or two, uncurled myself from my new perch on the counter and thought about it for a bit. The more I thought, the more I realized that I was perfectly happy to create my own (sickeningly wonderful, happily ever-after where absolutely no one dies) version of this story’s after life in my head. Sometimes it’s nice when an artist sets their work free into the world and allows the audience to take it into their own hearts and imagine the ending that they need to hear.

That being said, a nice little novella where we finally hear Liam’s story wouldn’t go unappreciated.

So all in all, the Proxy/Guardian deuology turned out to be a pretty fantastic reading experience. For me it’s impossible not to love a book that launched a two day discussion with my mom and sis over morning coffee in the mountains of NC and even lead to a bit of soul searching (see Marie paragraph). I will certainly be curious to read more from London in the future! (Actually, I might  have purchased one of his middle grade books; We are not Eaten by Yaks because how can you NOT buy a book with that title?)

So, have you read Proxy, Guardian or We are not Eaten by Yacks yet? If so I’d love, love, love to chat!!! Also, when you read do you find yourself mysteriously propelled all over the house and carrying on one way conversations with your books… or is that just me?

Side Note:

So I didn’t actually intend to post this over pride weekend it just happened that way. BUT while we’re at it: Here’s are a two other pretty awesome books with LGBT characters I’ve read recently & shall discuss shortly.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz: Holy gorgeousness batman!! This. Book. Was. Stunning. Go read it. The end. (Actually, I accidentally ended up with 3 copies so I’ll be doing a giveaway shortly. You should enter! :))

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith: Ummmmmmm. Shit. This is pretty much one of the most insane apocolypse books I’ve ever read. It was phenomenal! I can’t even tell you how much I enjoyed it! And yes, there really were giant Grasshopper/Praying Mantis creatures in it. Score!

Posted in Book Reviews, Dystopian, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s true. Sometimes I AM a little embarrassed.

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Ok. Don’t jump down my throat… hear me out yeah? I’m trying to dig deep here. This is hard for me because my default setting is pretty much cheerful sarcasm.

So I read that article. Probably you know the one… And if you don’t GREAT glad you missed it. It was completely absurd.

And even though I rolled my eyes and thought “Well this chick, sorry mature adult woman knows how to get a rise out of the internet.” it hit a little close to home, waaaayyyy deep in that bit of my soul that’s still wounded from being bullied in middle school and doesn’t want to be judged. Or something.

Maybe it’s partly that last sunday I pretty much turned “officially old” and that article felt like it was aimed at me. Actually it WAS aimed at me… Me and the legions of other well past 18year old YA readers out there who are responsible for a significant enough to write an ignorant opinion piece about us portion of book sales. And lets be honest, occasionally obsessive fandom.

But enough with the snark, I’m not saying anything thousands of other people haven’t already said far more eloquently. What I’m here to do is confess. So grab the holy water and send in the YA priest. (Is that John Green??)

So here it is… *Deep breath*

Sometimes I am embarrassed.

Embarrassed that many of my all time favorite books and certainly everything I have read and loved this past year  feature characters that are a decade or more younger than me.

Embarrassed that my heart flutters and I fangirl squeal right along with the teenagers I teach over the likes of Marie Lu, Alex London, V. Roth, JKR. (the list is pretty much endless so I’m gonna stop there.)

Embarrassed that I swoon over book boyfriends I might have babysat.

Embarrassed that if I could magically reincarnate it would be as Hermione, Ginny, June, Katniss, Tris, Deuce, Valentine (Hell, I might even come back as Harry, Syd, Day or Ender!! I’m not about to get picky about sex here if it means I get to be a world saving bad ass!) and not as a fully fledged adult character.

Embarrassed that I currently have no desire whatsoever to read any of the books that grumpy woman said I should (and  I’m not sure I ever will) and that my floor to ceiling TBR has maybe two “Adult” novels in it right now.

Sometimes I’m even embarrassed of this blog.

And you know what? When it comes down to it what I’m truly ashamed of is my embarrassment. Yep, that’s right I am straight up ashamed that I would ever consider hiding my books on the bus or that I feel like I should explain my reading choices even if the person I’m recommending my new favorite book to didn’t give me any reason to be defensive. I’m ashamed that I ever feel embarrassed of any kind of reading at all!

The funny thing is I am not ashamed or embarrassed that I married a man who plays D&D, paints legions of mini’s and writes horror, fantasy and science fiction. I don’t think twice about the fact that we see every super hero movie that comes out or occasionally go on comic book buying sprees. And I LOVE  that we go to the renaissance faire every single year where I wear a flower crown in my hair and we wander the stalls drinking cider and fantasizing about being lords and ladies.

So why the hell would I be ashamed of the beautiful, intelligent, thought provoking YA books I love? (Ok… they aren’t ALL extraordinary books…sometimes they are mediocre or fluffy but thats not the point! And maybe what I thought was so-so set your imagination on fire so it’s absurd to say that anyway!) The thing is, I really don’t know why I’m embarrassed but the ugly truth is that I suspect I’m not alone. The outcry from fellow YA loving adults in response to that holier than thou piece of drabble was fast and furious. It was filled with justifiable anger and endless lists of celebrated “classical” literature written about children and young adults. For hours my twitter was full of author responses and empowering comments which was WONDERFUL but I can’t help but wonder if buried deep in that totally relevant fury was the nagging fear that maybe that old “fuddy duddy” (her words) was right.

So for one second I’d like to take this opportunity to examine my “shame”.

Sometimes I glance at my bookshelves and wonder if all those freaking awesome sixteen year old protagonists I love so much really represent my own immaturity…maybe they do… It’s not that I particularly want to be sixteen again or go back to high-school (and I SURE AS HELL wouldn’t want to do middle school again!) but when I was a teenager there was an exciting rawness about everything accompanied by a feeling that the problems of the world were actually pretty manageable if only the world leaders would just sit down over coffee and be open, honest and respectful of each other. (Which seems completely stupid to me now but maybe that’s exactly the problem). And I confess I miss that side of myself… the girl who believed in the inherent goodness of people and thought she could make a difference.

So maybe I do occasionally read for “nostalgia” and maybe I AM afraid of this aging thing… (Because we are pretty seriously having that “lets have a baby” conversation in my house and OMG sometimes I forget to feed myself!! How can I be expected to keep a child alive and warm and happy??! And what if I fuck it all up??). And while I’m at it I’ll admit it’s absolutely true that I’d rather read a book full of characters fighting to make the world better, learning from their mistakes and trying to be good to each other than stories of how we tear ourselves apart and ruin our relationships.

Perhaps I wonder if  it’s unhealthy that the grown woman I’ve become misses the little girl who had endless magical worlds in her head and spent hours playing dress up in her backyard.

Maybe I AM an idealist or an escapist?

Personally, I think it’s clear via my last four or five book reviews that I’m not particularly looking for neatly packaged happily ever afters. But that doesn’t mean that I believe there is anything wrong with happily ever after either! Maybe happily ever after is growing old with people you love and weathering life with joy and humor to temper the sorrow and dying in a rocking chair with Harry Potter in your lap?? I don’t know but that sounds good to me.

I don’t know if these are things to be embarrassed of…? I suppose I’m inclined to think that they represent both my strengths and weaknesses. Here’s what I DO know however.

Good books are good books and literature does not begin and end in the adult psyche.

In fact I would argue the opposite… I believe that the mind of a child is a precious thing and a young adult is at a place in their lives where they are still able to access the imagination and clarity of thought that children posses but they are old enough to join conversations and truly have a voice in shaping the future of their world. Hell, this amazing NPR article about the power of the “Book Girls” pretty much proves that. So why wouldn’t writers want to tap into that amazing combination of intuition and intelligence and why wouldn’t their peers (ME because I’m the same age as many of those writers) want to read and find value in their work?

My mother (who is pretty much the equivalent of a sage) taught us to value the wisdom of children and she encouraged us to read books that treated children with respect. To this day my mother collects children’s books and my sisters and I still treasure the lessons we learned from the likes of Miss Rumphius, Grandfather Twilight, The Big Orange Splot and Meanwhile back at the Ranch. In fact I myself have a bookshelf dedicated to picture books and children’s stories in addition to the shelves filled with YA, Fantasy and Science Fiction.  To me it often seems that children’s books and YA  function as parables and if you hadn’t already guessed, it’s the lessons that draw me time and again to their pages.

And this is where I’m gonna be mean because, really?!? What did she (the well read writer lady) learn from all that highbrow literature? Apparently it wasn’t the value of exploring the heart and soul of the world’s youth or lessons in acceptance, diversity and individuality, you know all those things YA writers are constantly examining in their books and promoting in real life. I’m sure that’s not the fault of the books she’s reading, probably there are a lot of amazing pieces of wisdom in her favorite novels. Believe it or not I have also read my fair share of adult fiction (and even NON fiction *gasp*) and I can attest to it’s worth (though of course there’s fluff in every genre). Probably that woman was just grumpy or she really, really wanted to have her fifteen minutes of fame and took a cheap shot she knew would set her twitter ablaze. I don’t know… I’m kinda tempted to send her a copy of Miss Rumphius (which is all about having your adventures but making the world more beautiful) and put her in the time out corner to think about it.

So this is why ultimately I am ashamed of ever hiding my love of children’s and young adult literature and why I felt the need to confess my shame to you and perhaps open the door for a conversation.  Because I am someone who truly, truly believes that books and mostly books that find their homes on the YA shelves saved my life and shaped me into the adult I am today. A woman who I’m not always be proud of and who fails frequently and occasionally embarrasses herself but who strives to live up to the lessons she learns from the stories she treasures. (And of course the ones she learned from her mother.)

 

Whew, confession over. That was actually even harder than I thought.

Now I’d be truly honored to hear from you… YA lovers young and old, I want to know how this article (and the shaming of YA in general) made you feel. I wan’t to know what you thought even if it was ugly… And if like me, you had a moment of self examination maybe you’ll share??

 

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