Thursday, October 31, 2013


By: Neal Shusterman
UnSouled (Unwind, #3)
Connor and Lev are on the run after the destruction of the Graveyard, the last safe haven for AWOL Unwinds. But for the first time, they're not just running away from something. This time, they're running toward answers, in the form of a woman Proactive Citizenry has tried to erase from history itself. If they can find her, and learn why the shadowy figures behind unwinding are so afraid of her, they may discover the key to bringing down unwinding forever. Cam, the rewound boy, is plotting to take down the organization that created him. Because he knows that if he can bring Proactive Citizenry to its knees, it will show Risa how he truly feels about her.

This series just gets better and better. The crazy thing is that I'm always shocked by how much each book blows me away. And I know I shouldn't be, but I can't tell if it's just because each book is better than the last or because I lower my expectations so the brilliance will blow me away again. Either way I love it.
Connor: I love this kid. I just, ughh. He's the best. His character development is showcased so well in this book. He's always been brave and clever, but now he's compassionate and wise as well. I love that he still struggles with not wanting to become the kid he used to be, but it also makes me sad because I just want to hug him and tell him he's awesome.
I love how he takes Grace seriously when nearly no one else will.

"My idea!" Grace reminds them. "Send the Juvies on a detour, I said."
"Yes, you did, Grace," Connor says, and she gives him a hug for agreeing with her."

And even his dealings with Cam most of the time. He's much better now at not letting his anger take control of him. He's so smart and a brilliant leader.
I'm so looking forward to seeing him and Risa finally reunited in the next book. I've always been a fan of their relationship because I think they're each exactly what the other needs. Connor needs a calming voice of reason and Risa needs the brand of street smarts that Connor has made his own. I love that those things were alluded to, even in their time apart (like Connor hearing Risa's voice in his head.)
He's also hilarious as all get-out. His comebacks make my life.

"The direction of the conversation makes Cam uncomfortable. "Exactly whose kid is it?"
Connor smirks at Cam and puts one are around Risa. "Ours," he says. "Didn't you know?"

Overall I think Connor has worked his way into the list of my favorite heroes. Don't mess with him or I will hurt you.
Lev: Still in love with his character arc. His storyline was smaller and tamer in this book than in the last two, but I think he's building up to something important in the next one with the ChanceFolk. I wish we'd seen a bit of Miracolina in this book, but I'm hopeful for the next one.
Grace: OH MY GOSH. I FREAKING LOVE HER. She's a genius in a really unconventional way. She saved everyone's butts a lot more than once. Beyond that she's a brilliant character. Her love of games and strategy and history added depth and her perspectives sounded like you would expect her voice to sound like.
Risa: I still really love her. She's managed really well on her own. I loved the scenes with her in the salon, particularly when she was giving the JuvieCop a horrible hairdo. I was nervous for her, but laughing.
As for her dynamic with both Connor and Cam, it is so complicated. The thing is that Connor's love for Risa is self-sacrificing, but to Cam she is just manic-pixie-dream-girl. She came into his life and changed him and then left. He's trying to use her to solve his own doubts instead of facing them.
Cam: My relationship with Cam is also complicated. I think he's an incredibly complex character and I love him for it. He's a genius, but he's also his own special brand of stupid. But that's what makes him genuine because he hasn't actually existed for that long so it makes sense for him to be a bit naïve. But sometimes he's really logical and poetic,

"My birthday will be October tenth---Columbus Day." What could be more appropriate than a day commemorating the discovery of a land and people who were already there and didn't need discovering?"

"We'll have to be smarter than they are to break it down." And then Cam smiles. "But they made one mistake."
"What's that?"
"They built someone who's smarter than they are."

But I absolutely love being in his head during his sections. He's intriguing and truly thought-provoking. I love when he gets flustered and shouts out word-associations. I think it's a really cool detail (also a clever device to show which other characters actually understand him).
Hayden: This kid. I love him so much. He's the voice of reason to Bam. I'm always shocked by his blatant courage, as well. He's so not willing to compromise his morals that he puts himself in dangerous positions in the hopes that he could do some good. I love his whole vibe, too. He's hilarious in a morbid and sad way. He'll say something and have me laughing and 'awww'-ing in the very same breath.

"He guffaws at that. "Point for Bam! You truly do excel in disturbing imagery. Someday I may want to study under you."

"Geniuses, those Egyptians. They knew the last thing a pharaoh needs is a brain of his own, or he might do some real damage."

Starkey: What a complete psychopath. I'm thoroughly convinced after this book that Starkey is sick in his stupid little head. Can I punch his moronic face? Someone let me punch his face! His complete belief in his own heroism is proof enough that he's not one. Not to mention that he is literally ruining everything that Connor, Lev, and Risa have worked to build. His killed so many people on his quest to save people and the worst part is that he doesn't feel guilty about it at all. Connor is haunted by the casualties he's inflicted, Starkey is proud of his. And his "relationships" with the "prissies?" HE IS DISGUSTING. I just...I HATE HIM SO MUCH. He needs to get his comeuppance in the last book. 
Bam: Very possibly the LAST character I expected to start pitying and yet, here we are. I'm interested in her and Hayden's dynamic and I hope that together they'll affect change in the way the Storks are being paraded around. (But I have a feeling it's going to get worse before it gets better).
Argent and Nelson: Their sections were easily my least favorite of the book, not because they weren't well written, but because they are a couple of creeps and I had a hard time controlling my unending hatred for them.
Cyfi: I just loved seeing him again and what ended up happening to him.
There are so many groups moving around the game board and so many motives from so many characters and Shusterman is excellent at melding them all into a decipherable plot.
It was brilliant how Shusterman made sure that Lev, Connor, Risa, and Cam were all well-known, household names. Together their sphere of influence will be insanely large. They might just be big enough to change things.
This book showcases the slow expanding of the Unwinding ideal in their culture. Why stop at kids? Why not unwind criminals and druggies and everyone else not strengthening society? It's sick, but it's how industry woks in the real world. Want becomes need becomes an integral part of society.
And I still love the articles and "quotes" and advertisements that are included between chapters. The sickest and creepiest thing was when their logic almost sounded...well...logical. Not like it made sense, but like they had some brains and yet were STILL missing the problem. Proactive Citizenry is way too smart for my logic, as well. They know propaganda and they do it scarily well.
There was a lot of additional world-building in this book. The introduction of the ChanceFolk and their refusal to sign the Unwind Accord. Also finally hearing the Rheinschilds' story fully.

Once again Shusterman shows his mastery of switching narratives. The switching point of views push the story and the plot along and make it interesting. And it's the details, like that Elina was pointing out to Lev that true heroes always believe that the aren't heroes when it switches to Starkey to hear him say that he 'knows' that he's a hero.


"...but Cam has come to understand that a pedestal is nothing more than an elegant cage. No walls, no locks, but unless one has wings to fly away, on is trapped. A pedestal is the most insidious prison ever devised."

"But then again, ignorance and blind cruelty have been known to go hand in hand."

"Do we exist because others perceive our existence, or is, indeed, our own affirmation enough?"

"Not all locks are about restraint, dear," he tells her. "Some are merely about timing."

"If there's one lesson she has's that one cannot let the events of one's past murder one's future."

"Hope can be bruised and battered. It can be forced underground and even rendered unconscious, but hope cannot be killed."

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I have a small announcement. I am doing NaNoWriMo this November for the first time and I honestly couldn't be more excited. 50,000 words in a month is daunting, but if I can finish it it'll feel so great. It's also good training as I want to be an author.

My NaNo book is going to be a high fantasy set in a country that has its own version of the Fountain of Youth. The tentative title is The Storm of the Spring, but of course that's subject to a lot of change (along with a good portion of what I think of now as the plot).

I might do some updates throughout the month or something, I'm not completely sure yet.

All of that being said, I don't know how much reading I'll get done this month what with the writing added onto everything else I have going on in my life. But hopefully I'll be able to post some reviews.

And if you're doing NaNoWriMo as well feel free to tell me in the comments. I'd love to have to chat with you about progress and everything. As of right now I am really pumped for this month.

Monday, October 28, 2013

TTT: Scariest Looking Book Covers

Scariest Looking Book Covers
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they have a different Top Ten list topic that a bunch of bloggers take and make their own list of those things.

So there were two choices for this week's Top Ten Tuesday, you could do the scariest covers or the your Halloween book choices. Both were kind of problematic for me because I don't read horror or "scary" books. But I decided to go with the scariest looking covers.

The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus, #4)
1. House of Hades
I consider this cover scary mainly because it features two of my babies fighting their way through the depths of Hell. When the cover was first released I might of shrieked a bit...okay a lot.

2. Midwinterblood
This was probably the creepiest book I have ever read. It had a way of getting inside your skin and intruding on your thoughts.

UnWholly (Unwind, #2)
3. Unwholly
I was reading this at school and I must have had ten different people come up to ask what I was reading. Each of them said that the cover was creeping them out and wanted to know what the book was about and if it was as creepy as the cover suggested.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine, #1)4. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
This book has the creepy vibe spread throughout with all the vintage pictures and I absolutely loved it. The cover really captures the atmosphere of the book as well.

The Witch of Duva (The Grisha, #0.5)
5. The Witch of Duva
This is a short story by Leigh Bardugo set as a folk tale from her world in Shadow and Bone series. And just look at that cover! It's so creepy, man.

Sweetly (Fairytale Retellings, #2)
6. Sweetly
Yeah, I'm stretching a bit here, but the face is kind of scary...right? The bright purple kind of offsets that though. I don't know, just pretend you're a bit creeped out right now.

UnSouled (Unwind, #3)
7. Unsouled
Yep, I did just use two covers from the same series, but really, just look at this. Those faces are terrifying. These covers definitely fit with the vibe of the stories.

Shards and Ashes8. Shards and Ashes
Another stretch as this isn't too creepy, but it definitely looks like a scary place. You wouldn't want to live there, would you?

Saturday, October 26, 2013


By: Rainbow Rowell
In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

I'm going to preface this review by saying I don't truly enjoy much contemporary. I understand why a lot of people enjoy it, I just generally don't. Usually it is much too meandering for me. BUT, this book was one of the best books I've ever read, contemporary or otherwise. It was near perfect. I loved every bit of it straight to pieces. I get being in fandoms. It's a part of my life and so I was able to connect with that aspect of the book on a fundamental level (I don't write or read fanfiction or anything, but I do participate in other aspects of fandom life). This book sort of addresses the other side of Harry Potter, sorry...Simon Snow ;) The fans' side of it all. This book is telling the other part of the story, the part that hasn't been told yet but that is important to the culture of our generation. It tells the story of what those books can (and did) mean to us in a very real way.

Cath: Wow. I related to her on nearly every level. She's nerdy, socially awkward, and has anxiety. She was genuine. I feel like she is a real person who exists in the world. I loved that this book was never about changing Cath. She grew quite a bit, but she didn't have to change the way she dressed or spent a lot of her time for the story to progress. It was always okay for her to be a nerdy writer who spent a lot of time, well, writing.
I loved that she learned to trust other people, like Levi and Reagan, and even learned to trust Wren and her dad. And most importantly she began trusting and utilizing her own voice in her writing toward the end and it was beautiful.
Levi: CAN I JUST HAVE A LEVI? PLEEASE? Someone find me one, quick. Levi is like this adorable, dorky teddy-bear. I love it when he smiled, which he did every two seconds. I think it's not overly often that you find a love interest that isn't even slightly interested in being brooding or mysterious. Levi was charming and goofy and smiley most of the time. It was endearing.
Then the part when Levi thought Cath was embarrassed of his grades. "I'm not angry, sweetheart."
And when they had a tiny spat about her writing but then he realized he was wrong and waited outside the door for her.
And I loved how he insisted on calling her Cather most of the time.
And I loved that he came rushing to the hospital when she needed him because he just had to be there for her, even for just a few minutes. He's a gem.
And Levi having Cath read to him and really listening to her writing.

"I'm sorry I yelled at you," he said.
"Did you yell at me?"
"I raised my voice."

I seriously cannot stand how adorable he is. I think...(and this is a big deal, folks)... I think I have a new all-time favorite book crush. It's Levi. Always Levi.
And now for some of my favorite Levi-Cath-moments:

"And I just want to know---are you rooting for me? Are you hoping I pull this off?"

"I would like to welcome you to East Campus."
"I like it," Cath said, looking around. "It's dark. There are trees."
"You can park your snark at the gate, Omaha."

(a text message) "back in Arnold. gorgeous day. did you know Arnold has loess canyons and hills? the biological diversity would make you weep Cather Avery. call me sweetheart. and by that I mean that you should call me..not that you should call me sweetheart tho you can if you want. call me call me call me."

"Maybe we should go on lots of double dates," Cath said, "and then we can get married on the same day in a double ceremony, in matching dresses, and the four of us will light the unity candle all at the same time."
"Pfft," Levi said, "I'm picking out my own dress."

Most of all what I loved about him was that he wasn't JUST a love interest. He was his own, well-defined, genuinely well-written character who also happened to be an adorable love interest for Cath.
Reagan: She cracked me up constantly. I love that she was truly a good friend to Cath in her own, sort of offbeat way. I love that the two girls could have been made to resort to petty drama, but instead they were allowed to be mature characters who handled things in an adult manner. The beautiful thing is that this book didn't have to resort to drama to hold the reader's attention. It was charming enough on its own.
Wren: She took some warming up to, but I loved her because Cath loved her. And I ended up loving her toward the end when we really got to see what the sister relationship had been like between them before all the trouble started.
Arthur: I keep using this word in the review, but he was PRECIOUS. I loved his dynamic with the girls. He also had his own interesting arc in the story. He learned how to let go of his girls as they went off to college, but also how to be the authority figure that they needed when they needed one. I mean, I loved when he pulled out this line,

"Don't talk to me about your life, kid. You've shown complete disregard for your life."

I loved the whole groups' kind of odd friendship vibes when they were all together in a scene. For example, the scene where Reagan, Wren, and Levi were all there for Cath with Nick. FREAKING PRECIOUS.

Rainbow Rowell's writing style (at least in the two books of hers that I have read) always seems to fit her subject matter and her character's voice brilliantly. I loved some of the phrasing in this book. I think that quirky style she has just made this book shine brighter. Example,

"Levi's smile broke free and devoured his whole face. It started to devour her face, too."

End Thoughts:
This book was precious and beautiful and incredible and heart-warming. I wish I could re-read it for the first time again so I could experience it again. I know this will end up on my favorite books of the year list and I'm pretty dang sure I'll be picking up every book Rainbow Rowell ever writes.


"In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you."

"They were just stories, but stories weren't just anything."

"tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow."

"To really be a nerd, she decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one."

"Happily ever after, or even just together ever after, is not cheesy."

"Sometimes writing is running downhill, your fingers jerking behind you on the keyboard the way your legs do when they can't quite keep up with gravity.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


By: Veronica Roth
Allegiant (Divergent, #3)
The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories. But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

OUCH. It's safe to say that my heart just got ripped out, but in the best way. In almost an Augustus Waters-y way. (i.e. "It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.") The storytelling in this book (and this series) is masterful. It is fraught with action and tension and character development. I think this book took this series and elevated it to a level that astounded me. The world gets more twisted, right and wrong sometimes become murky, loyalties are tested and forged. It packed the punch that I hoped would close out the series.

That will be the end of the section without spoilers. So if you haven't read or finished the book yet, turn back now.

This book blew my mind in ways that I didn't know it could. So instead of organizing this (because I'm not sure how I'd do that), I'm just going to throw some words and points at you. Yes, it will be ramble-y. You're welcome.

---The expansion of the world made real sense and changed the political situation in just the right ways to bring about a conclusive end. Adding the Genetic Welfare Department was an interesting, as well as risky, choice. It isn't easy to add such a huge unexplained element to the final book in a series without confusing the reader or the plot of the story. But Veronica Roth managed to do just that. It was explained well and early so that everyone could move on to what it meant for the overall plot.

---I appreciate that this book was worked in such a way that it wasn't just an expansion of the world for the reader, but also for the characters. The little details like that they had trouble processing that the world was so much bigger than their lives or the lives in their city or like Peter with the maps trying to compute just how small they all were in the scheme of things.

---This book tackled a whole lot of themes in a cohesive and not an overbearing way.
Prejudice was considered and addressed in the way that the "Genetically Damaged" were treated as less than the "Genetically Pure."
Bravery is, once again, discussed and displayed in an open manner that does the subject matter justice. The point is to show that there are so many different kinds of bravery. That bravery has profound consequences. That it is hard. That it hurts. That it changes us. That it requires selflessness just as surely as kindness does.

---This series is a long, in-depth look at what makes a person have the character and personality that they do. Fears, choices, parent's choices, long ago ancestors' choices, nature vs. nurture, growth and development, traumatic experiences. I think it shows that it isn't as simple as we often think to figure out why people are the way they are. In fact it's nearly impossible to count in every variable.

---I love how Veronica Roth works her faith into the book in even the smallest of ways.
"And as I stare out at the land, I think that this, if nothing else, is compelling evidence for my parents' God, that our world is so massive that it is completely out of our control, that we cannot possibly be as large as we feel."

---If Veronica Roth understands anything it is that it is lazy to make villains without redeeming qualities and heroes without flaws or consequences.

---I've heard some people remarking that the writing in this book was worse than in the other two. I completely disagree. When I was reading (and before I saw those things) I thought that the actual writing was better than that of Divergent and Insurgent. I think Veronica Roth has found and developed her voice and that it is only getting stronger.

Now I'm going to talk more directly about the characters and the plot:
Tobias: One of the many risks that Veronica Roth took was introducing a new point of view into the final book, particularly the point of view of a character we have known for so long. But this is another risk that I think paid off.
By letting Tobias tell the story, she let it become Tobias' story as well as Tris'. That was a brilliant choice for this final book because it expanded the world in the way that we needed to see it. It also put the reader in the position to understand Evelyn and her motives more than we understood Jeanine.
We see Tris through his eyes, rather than just her own and that was probably the best thing to come from his perspective. We are used to seeing Tris from her own biased perspective. She always saw herself as doing what needed go be done. But when we see from outside of her we see the truth of her bravery and her selflessness. That she is both to the extreme, or has become so through the other books.
I loved Tobias' voice. It is poetic and observant in a way that Tris' is not. I thought it was really interesting to see the compound from both of their perspectives because they noticed different things and felt different things because of that.
Tobias got much more development in this book than he got in the others. He finally had to bring up and deal with his parents and his past. I love that his fears changing was allowed to speak volumes about his character. That his fear of Marcus changed into the fear of becoming him hit me hard in the gut. It gave him realistic motivation in many of his choices and a genuineness that is truly touching. We learned to love Four for his bravery and now we were given the opportunity to love him for his fears, for his weakness.

"How many young men fear that there is a monster inside them? People are supposed to fear others, not themselves. People are supposed to aspire to become their fathers, not shudder at the thought."

"I was no longer a child, afraid of the threat my terrifying father posed to my safety. I was a man, afraid of the threat he posed to my character, to my future, to my identity."

But, of course, before he developed he had to go through some pretty heavy crap, admittedly most of it self-inflicted. He made huge mistakes that cost him so much. He failed to trust Tris and, in turn, hurt so many. Seeing him break down in the face of all that was one of the most heartbreaking things about this book. But his breakdown is so convincing only because he is an excellent character.

"I feel what I have become is halfway between my mother and my father, violent and impulsive and desperate and afraid. I feel like I have lost control of what I have become."

We've seen him as the unquestionable hero for so long, probably for too long. He became human and flawed. I think in the end we saw his character with more compassion because of his mistakes, rather than less. And that takes skill for an author to accomplish.
Christina: Such a fantastic character. She grows slowly but surely in the background of each book. She is a loyal friend to first Tris and then Tobias and I love her for it. She's not afraid to call them on their stupidity because that's that what friends do.
I also thought it was interesting to see her dynamic with her family again. Especially now that she is not Candor any more.
Uriah: He made me laugh and then he made me cry.
Zeke: I never thought all that much about him until this book. His parting with Tobias had me laughing out loud,

"...and I can't resist calling back, "I'll miss you."
"You too, sweetie."

But then I felt so bad for him and his mom about everything with Uriah. I love that he eventually could be friends with Tobias again.
Cara: Oh, I love her. She really grew on me in this book. She was a good friend to Tobias and told him the things that he needed to hear. One piece of information that struck me was when Tobias said that they had now known her longer than they knew Will. THAT HURT ME. But in truth, she helped the group get to where it needed to be and she was really brave and caring along the way. I loved this conversation,

"Cara says, 'Ignore them. They don't know wha it is to make a difficult decision."
'You wouldn't have done it, I bet.'
'That is only because I have been taught to be cautious when I don't know all the information, and you have been taught that risks can produce great rewards.' She looks at me sideways. 'Or, in this case, no rewards."

Those were the words that cemented my love for her character.
Johanna: She's a favorite of mine, for real. She kind and strong and smart. Her confrontation with Marcus had me cheering when she put him in his place.
Caleb: How do I talk about him. He's interesting because he is horrible, but he's not without his own redeeming qualities. He is a coward who let his sister die for him, but he's just scared and wanted to cling to life. He's so smart and analytical, but he fails to analyze his own actions. I will never love him, but I can understand and accept Tris' love for him. He is her brother, horrible or not. The essence of his character is that he is horrifyingly feeble. He lets others make the hard decisions and choices and he holds back in his fear. He is truly almost the antithesis of all that Tris is. That is what makes their relation so strange and fascinating.
The difference between Tris and Caleb is that in either position Tris would have taken the backpack. She is result of Abnegation and Dauntless combined. If the roles were reversed she never would have given Caleb the backpack.
Peter: He is quite the ambiguous character. He's this horrible guy who doesn't want to be horrible, but he takes the weak path to escape it. I can only imagine that he finds himself right back where he was.
He did, however, bring up the question of nature vs. nurture in a fascinating way. Would he become a different person without his memories? In the epilogue a hint was dropped that he retained some of his old habits even through his loss of memory. But I really think that it is left open to opinions.

and, of course, I've saved the best (and also worst) for last.
Tris: It's safe to say that Tris has now worked her way into the ranks of the true heroines. And yes, I realize that is a statement to which Tris would respond,

"Oh, good," I say, a sour taste in my mouth. "Heroism is what I was focused on. Not, you know, trying not to die."

But I stand by my statement.
First of all I love that Tris never lets herself forget what she did to Will. The all-consuming guilt is gone, but it's realistic that she'll never escape the consequences. She bears the pain of it because she knows she has to.
Secondly, the biggest part of what makes Tris such a strong heroine is that she's not afraid to do what she thinks is best, even when Tobias or even the whole world disagrees with her. She acts on a combination of her gut and her assumed responsibility.
In this book she finally learns how to balance selflessness and bravery correctly. She's okay with others make sacrifices as well, but only for the right reasons. And she's not self-destructive like she was in Insurgent. She finally wants to live again.
Which makes your heart pangs so much worse when she eventually reaches her end.
And now to address the biggest risk that Veronica Roth took with this book, killing off her main character.
This is something everyone just assumes won't happen because, you know, it's the main character, the character we care the most about, the character that we have followed throughout the entire series. But that is why this choice worked so brilliantly.
Tris' choice hurt us because it was the right one for her to make. I love her for making it, too. Would we really have respected her if she hadn't been willing to sacrifice? That might have made her more relatable to us, but it wouldn't have made her a hero to us.

"He is a part of me, always will be, and I am a part of him, too. I don't belong to Abnegation, or Dauntless, or even the Divergent. I don't belong to the Bureau or the experiment or the fringe. I belong to the people I love, and they belong to me---they, and the love and loyalty I give them, form my identity far more than any word or group ever could."

Because if we're being realistic (and to paraphrase the Percy Jackson series), the stories of true heroes most often end in tragedy. We can't expect long journeys of self-discovery and violence and emotion and justice without receiving the ramifications of the things we most enjoyed in that series. We can't love Tris for her bravery and then expect her not to act on it, not to make the ultimate sacrifice because of it. It wouldn't do the story or the reader justice or do them any good to leave out the messy bits, the hard bits. We must learn that it is anything but easy to be the hero. It hurts and it brings death and heartbreak. Telling us anything different would make us unprepared for the decisions we have to make daily, whether we will be brave. That is the truth in Tris' story and the reason it couldn't have ended any other way.

I might have wished a happy ending for Tris, but that is less important than a valid ending.

And, once again proving herself as a mature and kind author, here is a blogpost that Veronica Roth made answering some of the questions about the ending of Allegiant. She answers the critics with grace and eloquence and this just cements her place as one of my all-time favorite authors. Read this.

"It doesn't take skill to stand in a place where no bullets find you, or to fire into the dark and hit a man you didn't see. It is all luck, or providence, depending on what you believe."

"I prefer to look at it another way---which is that if they are persistent enough, even tiny drops of water, over time, can change the rock forever. And it will never change back."

"To be such a complicated, mysterious piece of biological machinery, and more amazing still, to have the capacity to analyze that machinery! ...Our ability to know about ourselves and the world is what makes us human."

"He makes the acquisition of knowledge feel like a secret, beautiful thing, and an ancient thing. I feel like, if I read this book, I can reach backward through all the generations of humanity to the very first one, whenever it was---that I can participate in something many times larger and older than myself."

"I wonder if this is how it is with all evil men, that to someone, they look just like good men, talk like good men, are just as likable as good men."

"To me, when someone wrongs you, you both share the burden of that wrongdoing--the pain of it weighs on both of you. Forgiveness, then, means choosing to bear the full weight all by yourself."

"But requiring a person to disappear, to fade into the background wherever they go, is no better than encouraging them to punch one another."

"She taught me all about real sacrifice. That it should be done from love, not misplaced disgust for another person's genetics. That it should be done from necessity, not without exhausting all other options. That it should be done for people who need your strength because they don't have enough of their own."

"I do know that. I know that change is difficult, and comes slowly, and that it is the work of many days strung together in a long line until the origin of them is forgotten. He is afraid that he will not be able to put in that work, that he will squander those days, and that they will leave him worse off than he is now."

"There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater.
But sometimes it doesn't.
Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life."

"Since I was young, I have always known this: Life damages us, every one. We can't escape that damage. But now, I am also learning this: We can be mended. We mend each other."

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two

The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two
By: Catherynne M. Valente
The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two (Fairyland, #3)
September misses Fairyland and her friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. She longs to leave the routines of home, and embark on a new adventure. Little does she know that this time, she will be spirited away to the moon, reunited with her friends, and find herself faced with saving Fairyland from a moon-Yeti with great and mysterious powers.

All of the magic of the first two in a uniquely new story. I love that Valente consistently manages to add in interesting aspects to Fairyland, first by taking us to Fairyland-Below and now to the Moon.
I'm going to do this review like I did the other two of the series because it's the perfect system for the hodgepodge of wonderfulness that makes up this series.

Things I love:
1. September
Aww. I love watching her grow up. She's still barely a teenager in this one, but she has grown so much in these three books. She's learned about friendship and now about love. She's faced dictators and yetis and herself. She's the heroine that every fairy-tale deserves because she's brave and selfless (and even scared or confused sometimes). I think that every young girl should read about September. There's so much worth in her character.

2. A-through-L
I'M SO HAPPY TO HAVE A FULL STORY WITH REAL-HIM AGAIN. I missed him and Saturday in the second book. His friendship with September is one of the best parts of these books. He's so sweet and caring, but also nervous and excitable. I felt so bad for him in this book, though. He felt so bad about himself with the curse and whatnot.

3. Saturday
Once again, SO HAPPY TO SEE HIM. I love the dynamic between him and September. He's so darn sweet, too. I love to see him get more confident with himself. He found a place for him on the moon and again with September. I also love his development with his future self. It was cool to see something mentioned about him in the first book being fleshed out.
And can we just talk about how adorable he is?

"We feel as though we know you because Saturday talks about you whenever he's not breathing, eating, or sleeping. And sometimes he'll make an exception for all three."
..."The contortionists call him Saturday-When-September-Comes-Back!"

"Until then, the only thing...the only thing I'd practiced so much was what I'd say to you, when I saw you again." The Marid hurried on. "Though in the end I am better at Dog-earing than remembering speeches, no matter how many times I've said them to myself."

4.The Chapter Headings
I still can't get over the chapter headings. I mean, they're fabulous. For example,

"In Which September Walks on the Moon, Is Accused of Sundry Wickednesses by a Lobster and Two Jackals, Hails a Crap, and Meets a Very Unusual Mollusk."

"In Which September Is Troubled by the Mechanics of Time and Fate, the Course of a Curse, the Unlikelihood of Visiting Pluto, and a Very Argumentative Donkey."

The encounter with the Moon Whelk (Almanack) is probably my favorite Fairyland encounter ever. She was so awesome and kind and big.

6. The Narrator
As with the others, the omniscient narrator is incredibly well used in these books. The execution of it is absolutely perfect. Examples,

"We may be very grateful for this, as young girls who learn to drive upon the great plains are no more designed for wintry mountain roads than convertible automobiles for snow, and it is in our interest and September's that novels last longer than their beginnings."

"Take my hand, I know the way.Narrators have a professional obligation not to let their charges fall onto concrete."

"How I long to draw the curtain through this grotto, take September by the serious and stalwart shoulders and tell her the secret of growing up! But I cannot. It is against the rules. Even I am bound by some rules."

"Oh, but September, it isn't so. I ought to know, better than anyone. I have been objective and even-tempered until now, but I cannot let that stand, I simply cannot. Listen, y girl. Just this once I will whisper from far off, like a sigh, like a wind, like a little breeze. So it is written---but so, too, it is crossed out. You can write over it again. You can make notes in the margins. You can cut out the whole page. You can, and you must, edit and rewrite and reshape and pull out the wrong parts like bones and find just the thing and you can forever, forever, write more and more and more, thicker and longer and clearer. Living is a paragraph, constantly rewritten."

7. How the Other Books in the Series are Discussed Openly
The thing about September's journey through these books is that the books don't let you forget where she came from or where she started out. It shows you clear as day how far she's come. It lets you know the status of her heart, from a child's to a teenager's to someone growing up.

"We have said before that the world is a house. You and I have gone together into the basement where the underworlds are kept. We have lounged comfortably in the front room and shared our familiar tea with all things familiar: Omaha and Europe and cruel schoolmates and spy movies and airplane factories and amiable dogs. We have played such wonderful games in the upstairs bedroom, where Wyveraries and Marids and witches and giant talking cats peek out from behind the bedpost and the Lamp is always on."

8. Important Themes
Like what it really means to grow up. It doesn't mean being unexcited and solemn and bored, or at least, it doesn't have to. September learns so much about so much throughout Fairyland. It's always great seeing her take a lesson from Fairyland into the real world; it makes you feel that you could do the same.

9. The Gorgeous Writing
If I could choose to write like anyone, I would choose Catherynne M. Valente.

I love that there are long passages, spanning whole pages, that take your breath away. Then there are short little phrases that hit home. For example, "Family is a transitive property."

10. Candlestick the Buraq
I LOVED LOVED LOVED HER. She pretty much summed up my thoughts on a couple things within her first moments meeting September and the gang.

11. The Library Battle Between Fiction and Non-Fiction 
The battle in the library between fiction and non-fiction was, quite literally, genius. It was such a quirky little detail, but a fantastic one.

12. The Country of Photography
That chapter was such a cool concept to see play out. I really love photography, so thinking it about it in that way was truly fascinating. And if anyone could pull it off it would definitely be these books.

"Seeing is magic. When you look at something you change it, just by looking. It's not an apple anymore, it's an apple your friend Turing saw and thought about and finally ate. And it's worse than that---anything you look at changes you, too. A camera takes a picture---but the photographer can't escape the picture."

13. Why the Fairies Left
This has been a topic brought up time and time and time again in this series. I love that we finally got an answer as to why the fairies left and where they went. But more than that, I loved the answer that was given. It was so much more interesting than anything I would have guessed.

14. Quirk Factor
The fact that this story can have orange fizzes made out of sunshine and a pregnant moon and yetis that control time and still remain weirdly un-weird. These things just make it more charming than anything.

"Her face was turning into the face it would be when she was grown. But she couldn't see it, for no one can see themselves change until they have already done it, and then suddenly they cannot remember ever having been different at all."

"Instead of fretting over a day here or there, she would prepare. The place that fear took up in her heart she would fill with provisions and readiness. She was a seasoned adventuress now, after all."

"When you wear all your insides on your outside, people look at you very strangely. No one had ever told her that exulting and dancing and singing nonsense were childish things, but she felt sure that they were, some how.
Shall I tell her? Shall I be a kind and merciful narrator and take our girl aside? Shall I touch her new, red heart and make her understand that she is no longer one of the tribe of heartless children, nor even the owner of the wild and infant heart of thirteen-year-old girls and boys? Oh, September! Hearts, once you have them locked up in your chest, are a fantastic heap of tender and terrible wonders---but they must be trained....A heart can learn ever so many tricks, and what sort of beast it becomes depends greatly upon whether it has been taught to sit up or to lie down, to speak or to beg, to roll over or to sound alarms, to guard or to attack, to find or to stay. But the trick most folk are so awfully fond of learning, the absolute second they've got hold of a heart, is to pretend they don't have one at all. It is the very first danger of the hearted."

"Music has more rules than math or magic and it's twice as dangerous as both or either."

"All money is imaginary...Money is magic everyone agrees to pretend is not magic. Observe! You treat it like magic, wield it like magic, fear it like magic! Why should a body with more small circles of copper or silver or gold than anyone else have an easy life full of treats every day and sleeping in and other people bowing down? The little circles can't get up and fight a battle or make a supper so splendid you get full just by looking at it or build a house of a thousand gables. They can do those things because everyone agrees to give them power."

"That's your first hint that something's alive. It says no. That's how you know a baby is starting to turn into a person. They run around saying no all day, throwing their aliveness at everything to see what it'll stick to. You can't say no if you don't have desires and opinions and wants of your own You wouldn't even want to. No is the heart of thinking."

"The best way to be the kind of girl you want to be is to do what that girl would do."

"At the bottom of philosophy something very true and very desperate whispers: Everyone is hungry all the time. Everyone is starving. Everyone wants so much, more than they can stomach, but the appetite doesn't converse much with the stomach. Everyone is hungry and not only for food--for comfort and love and excitement and the opposite of being alone. Almost everything awful anyone does it to get those things and keep them...But no one can use you up unless you let them."

"The whole point of growing is to get big enough to hold the world you want inside you."

"Have you done a long, hard thing for the sake of someone you loved, so long and so hard that your body shook with the difficulty of it, that you were thirsty and aching and ravenous by the time it was done, but it did not matter, you did not even feel the thirst or the pain or the hunger, because you were doing what was Necessary?"

"Oh, September! It is such hard work to keep your heart hidden! And worse, by the time you find it easy, it will be harder still to show it. It is a terrible magic in this world to ask for exactly the thing you want. Not least because to know exactly the thing you want and look it in the eye is a long, long labor."

"A silent Library is a sad Library...A Library should be full of exclamations! Shouts of delight and horror as the wonders of the world are discovered or the lies of the heavens uncovered or the wind adventures of devil-knows-who sent romping out on the pages. It should positively vibrate with laughing at comedies and sobbing at tragedies...A Library should not shush; it should roar."

"It was also important to announce your intentions at top volume, she thought, or your intentions will think you are ashamed of them."

"September's heart puffed up like a kernel of corn, awfully full of excitement and memory and the peculiar jangly, jittery sort of contentment that comes when you suddenly get what you've wanted for so long that you forgot what it was like to think about anything but wanting it."

"Practice seemed like a very alive thing to me. I thought often of how much I would like to practice something like that, to shape it bit by bit, every day, to be so good at moving and seeming that I could change just a tiny turn of my toe and have it become something new...Because you would take that with you, you know?...You couldn't help it, if you'd practiced enough. Your body would remember, like how a piano player drums her fingers on her leg in the pattern of her favorite song without even noticing. You'd take it with you into everyday doing and walking and singing and reading in the Library and dreaming and sleeping. Every time you moved or seemed it would mean something..."

"Many years later, folk whose names you and I studied in school went up to the roof of our world and looked down. Perhaps they could name that feeling for her. It's something like suddenly stepping out of your own skin and seeing yourself from the outside, seeing the body you live in the way it looks to the stars and the sun and the sky and everyone who knows you, without mirrors or photographs or reflections in shop windows. You look at that silly old place you've been walking around in and forgetting to brush your teeth or braid your hair neatly and it is nothing like you thought, but somehow, someway, better than you ever hoped it could be."

"You know what a fate looks like, don't you? It's just a toy version of yourself, made out of alabaster and emerald and a little bit of lapis lazuli and ambition and coincidence and regret and everyone else's expectations and laziness and hope and where you're born and who to and everything you're afraid of plus everything that's afraid of you."

"It's when you're dead set on your path that you most need a pilgrimage."

"What others call you, you become. It's a terrible magic that everyone can do---so do it. Call yourself what you wish to become."

TTT: Character Names I Love

Top Ten Character Names I Love:
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they have a different Top Ten list topic that a bunch of bloggers take and make their own list of those things.

This was a very difficult for me to narrow down because, as it happens, I have a thing for awesome names (particularly in books). I read a lot of fantasy and weird and awesome names kind of come with the territory. Here are thirteen of my favorites. (I also narrowed it down to only girl names because if I'd had both on here the list would have been way longer. But if you're wondering my favorite guy name from a book is probably Percy or Finnikin.)

Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles, #1)1. Isaboe
As if being awesome and complex wasn't good enough for Isaboe, she has a freaking fantastic name. It's so buoyant sounding (I'm not sure if that makes sense, but that's the only way I can think to put it.)
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)

2. Annabeth
On the surface it sounds so much like a classic, but with an interesting twist. I also love the double possibility for nicknames.

Divergent (Divergent, #1)3. Tris
What I love most about this name is what Veronica Roth did with it. I love how she used Beatrice and Tris as different facets of Tris' personality. (Plus Tris just sounds kick-butt.)

The Fault in Our Stars

4. Hazel
I have always loved this name. My family is convinced that it's an "old lady name," but I think it's adorable. Also I think Hazel and Grace sound really cute together.

The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two (Fairyland, #3)5. September
You hear a lot of other months used as names (June, May, or April), but I never even considered this one until I read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. But then it grew on me quite a bit.
Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)

6. Ismae
This one just kind of rolls off the tongue. It's tough and soft sounding at the same time.

The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #3)
7. Thalia
(And since this is apparently up for debate, I pronounced it Th-alia. Not Talia like some *cough*Hollywood*cough*). It's kind of the same deal as Ismae. It sounds hard and soft all at the same time.
Fairest (Enchanted, #3)
8. Aza
I have adored this name since I first read Fairest as a elementary student. It's just pretty. No other reason needs giving.

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)
9. Alina
Another twist on a almost traditional sounding name. I also think it matches Alina's personality well though I can't put my finger on exactly why.
The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus, #4)

10. Reyna
I'm not even sure why I like this one so much. Reyna just sounds like a kick-butt name.

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)
11. Calaena
So pretty and fantastical sounding. It's perfect for the setting as well.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)
12. Luna
Just magical. Not going to lie, I wouldn't mind if my name was Luna. (Sure, it gives people an excuse to call you Loony, but it'd be totally worth it.)

Princess Academy (Princess Academy, #1)13. Miri
A pretty twist on Mary. It's also really cool looking and very fun to write out.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lioness Rampant

Lioness Rampant
By: Tamora Pierce
Lioness Rampant (Song of the Lioness, #4)
Having achieved her dream of becoming the first female knight errant, Alanna of Trebond is not sure what to do next. Perhaps being a knight errant is not all that Alanna needs....But Alanna must push her uncertainty aside when a new challenge arises. She must recover the Dominion Jewel, a legendary gem with enormous power for good -- but only in the right hands. And she must work quickly. Tortall is in great danger, and Alanna's archenemy, Duke Roger, is back -- and more powerful than ever. In this final book of the Song of the Lioness quartet, Alanna discovers that she indeed has a future worthy of her mythic past -- both as a warrior and as a woman.

What a whirlwind ending to one of my new all-time favorite fantasy series (and series in general). Honestly so much happened and I thought it was all magnificent. I'm really sad to be leaving Alanna and her friends (which is part of why I put off finishing the last book). But I'm contented with how it ended.

So many characters in this one, yet the wonder of it all was that all the names never got confusing!
Alanna: She's such a fantastic character. At some point she stops being a character and becomes a person and that's really the true measure of a book. I appreciated every time she was allowed cry and still be a warrior. Even at things like a compliment from her former teacher or reuniting with Myles, George, and Jon.
 Another of my favorite aspects of Alanna's personality was how, even at the end when she's done all of these amazing things, she was always humble (and not fake modesty either). She always believed in the worth of others to do important jobs. I love she truly wasn't the most powerful or the most honorable of the characters, she never became the special snowflake of the bunch. She always remained herself and yet managed to do awesome things.
I absolutely loved the scene where Alanna tried on the dress and had to defend that choice to Liam. She made the perfect argument for it and explained why it is not a bad thing to want to be feminine and a warrior. I love that Alanna has become a champion for that idea. That's a huge part of what these books are about and I've never seen that topic addressed so frankly in a book. It is not an oxymoron to want to be a strong woman and it does not mean that you have to push aside all femininity.
I love that Alanna inspired loyalty. If you think about it, she had so many people, truly important people, rally around her because they saw her importance and her fierceness.
George: Oh honey. He's one of my favorite characters ever. He's loyal and sincere and witty and AGH. So much love. You just know I was rooting for him to end up with Alanna. Sure, he wasn't in the beginning of the book much, but when he showed up he made it worth the wait. I love that he accepted Alanna and Liam without bitterness or cruelty. He knew Alanna and that she was entitled to make her own decision. He was still there for her as a best friend. I loved that.
I love that he's this King of Rogues and a great knife-fighter (great enough to beat Alanna consistently) and yet he's so humble.
The depth to which he understands Alanna is truly touching. I saw that constantly in his interaction with and thoughts of her. But it is especially exampled in this quote from George,

"I try not to ask the impossible of her, Mother. She's not a lass who waits at home for her man."

and also this one,

"She's done it, he thought. My darlin's made them pay attention and dance to her tune."

and the fact that George was the only one who didn't mind when Alanna cut her hair really short again. I think of the three romantic interests in the books, George is the only one who was fully able to grasp all of Alanna's personality and understand them as though they made up one person. Liam was learning to, but he never quite got there. And Jonathan had trouble understanding that both her sides made up one woman.

Liam Ironarm: At first I was wary of him, but in the end I really liked him. He was brave and strong and honorable and I understand why him and Alanna loved each other. But I also understand why they didn't work, and I'm glad that was addressed. His ending to the story was how I figured it would have to work out, but I was sad when it did. He really was so similar to Alanna in so many ways and that was why it was really interesting to see them interact and see how they reacted to each other.
Jonathan: It was so wonderful seeing him finally grow up into being king. The thing is that he's always had what it took to be a great king. I think all the power that he collected from the Bazhir and his Gift and the Crown and the Jewel were just proof of that, rather than the source of it. He's been groomed for this responsibility. I mean, you really have to understand kingshipto say something like this,

"Of all my subjects, I am the one least able to break the law."

Myles and Eleni: YES. This was brilliant. I loved them together especially because they both deserve to have someone special in their life. I really liked the detail during the final fight that Myles was actually a fantastic fighter as well as a scholar. And Eleni fighting with the thread was so kick-butt.
Thayet: So awesome! I love that she didn't let her evident beauty define her or her worth.She was a fighter and an intellect and brave enough to seek her own future. I wish we'd seen more of her, but I appreciated her for Jonathan and I think she would make a great queen.
Thom: I knew that his ambition was not going to lead him to a good place, but I didn't expect to feel so terrible for him. He surely reaped what he sowed, but it was so sad to watch. I wish that he and Alanna had got more time together during their training, as that might have prevented it all.
Gary, Raoul, Alex: I also loved seeing where their paths took them while Alanna was off adventuring. With the exception of Alex (who is a stupid jerk), I thought their jobs were perfect for them. As Alanna said, Gary needed responsibility to keep his feet on the ground and Raoul made a great leader.
Faithful: NOOOOO. I am so sad. So very very sad. I went back and reread that section multiple times to make sure I wasn't misreading it. He was one my favorite characters. He always kept Alanna alert to why she was acting the way she was acting. But I suppose at some point she had to lose her conscience and start acknowledging those things on her own.
Coram: I have so much love for him! He stands by Alanna to the very end. I loved when he accepted George and when he became friends with Liam for Alanna's sake. And him and Rispah are adorable.

Claw: How could I not guess who he was? As soon as it was said I smacked my face repeatedly (especially because I marathoned the books). I love that even when he's this big rogue guy, he's still sort of incompetent and cowardly.
Roger: Just when you thought we were over him. He showed once again that he is actually really clever when it comes to evil plots, but he never fully estimated Alanna or Jonathan. And that's why he was ultimately defeated.

The themes and values of the other books were definitely held up and defined in this book. The women fought, and helped win, the battle. They were all different and smart and interesting. They made their own decisions and led their own fates.


"People like you change the world; a smart man keeps track of such folk."

"All her life she'd planned to be a knight-errant, roving the world to do great deeds. But now she was learning that such a life included periods of boredom, riding through country-side that seldom changed. Not every village had a cruel overlord; few crossroads were held by evil knights."

"Just because you're born to be a king doesn't mean you have the will for it."

"I just wondered why you feel you have to be all warrior or all woman. Can't you be both?"

"Surely I didn't think I could beat an army single-handed!"
"You still do."

"I'm female...Why can't I wear a dress without you deciding I want to give up everything I am."

"But isn't that always the way when folk plot to steal power? The innocent get hurt."

"That's a pretty dress. Are you wearing it for anyone in particular?"
"Yes," she snapped. "Myself."