Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tiger Lily

Tiger Lily
By: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Tiger Lily
Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . . Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell. Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter. With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

Here's the thing. I started this book maybe a year ago? I got about 50 pages in and put it down. It wasn't that I wasn't enjoying, I just wasn't that invested. I always intended to come back for it, because the premise still interested me and I really enjoyed the writing style.

So, flash forward to now. I've since learned that books I can't get invested to when reading in a physical form often work for me in audio book, because I don't have to sit there reading, I can move around while I listen. I decided to try that for this book, and by golly, did it work.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The storytelling is wonderful, the premise is interesting, and the characterization is great. Jodi Lynn Anderson knows how to craft a great story. Really, this book is great and now I understand why so many people praise the writing in this book.

Those things being said, I feel the book did lag in the middle, and the climax of action didn't feel like it was all that the book was leading up to. I felt like the suspense earlier in the book promised something that the climax scene just didn't fulfill. That seems to be an opinion only I hold, or at least, I haven't seen anyone else who felt that way, so I could be wrong. It just didn't do it for me, you know?

One of my favorite things was the narrator. It was such a unique and intriguing way to tell a story. Tinkerbell was a part of the story, but separate, too. She could give life to all of the characters' emotions, while also having her own. Sometimes it felt like third-person omniscient, but that's partly why I liked it. It was a way to let the reader into the story. Tink feels more like the reader than a character, which I thought was SO wonderful.

But the ending? THE ENDING. It was absolutely gorgeous. I mean, I was riding in the car with my mom listening through my headphones, just going about errands and such, and I almost started public. That's crazy to me, I never cry in public. That's how gorgeous the resolution of the book was for me. And the ending actually bumped up my star rating for this book by a whole star.

And the writing? THE WRITING. It was absolutely gorgeous. Look at some of the quotes I've included, LOOK AT THEM. They are beautiful, absolutely made of beauty.

This is one of the most interesting and most beautiful retellings I've ever read. Some parts of it fell a bit flat, but overall, I am so glad I picked it back up. And I think I read it at just the right time, too.


“For the girls with messy hair and thirsty hearts.”  

“Still, the longer I was around her, the more I could see the colors of her mind and the recesses of her heart. There was a beast in there. But there was also a girl who was afraid of being a beast, and who wondered if other people had beasts in their hearts too.”  

“As you may have guessed already, Peter had a soul that was always telling itself lies. When he was frightened, his soul told itself, "I'm not frightened." And when something mattered that he couldn't control, Peter's soul told itself, "it doesn't matter."

“Did you know I always thought you were braver than me? Did you ever guess that that was why I was so afraid? It wasn't that I only loved some of you. But I wondered if you could ever love more than some of me.

 It doesn't happen twice. And I never expected that you could have a broken heart and love with it too, so much that it doesn't seem broken at all. I know young people look at me and think my youth seems so far away, but it's all around me, and you're all around me.

 I like to think that nothing's final, and that everyone gets to be together even when it looks like they don't, that it all works out even when all the evidence seems to say something else, that you and I are always young in the woods, and that I'll see you sometime again, even if it's not with any kind of eyes I know of or understand.

“I'm not myself," she offered, guiltily...
He smiled. "You can never say that. You're just a piece of yourself right now that you don't like.”  

“I could never leave,' Pine Sap said.
'Why?' she asked.
Pine Sap shrugged, and gestured in the direction of the village. 'Because I think people must be the same everywhere. Only these people are my bones.”  

“Sometimes I think that maybe we are just stories. Like we may as well just be words on a page, because we're only what we've done and what we are going to do. But then I look at the things I've seen and done, and I become a long scrawly line of something important.”  

Monday, April 28, 2014

April 29th: Watch this? Read that.

Watch This? Read That.
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.
Here's the thing, I watch a crap load of TV shows and movies. I typically prefer books as a storytelling method, but I think there are so many possibilities in  the visual medium for telling beautiful stories. So, I couldn't narrow this down to just one type of suggestion, not when I got thinking about all the books that could easily be paired with some of my favorite shows and movies. And if you love any of these shows, feel free to tell me (and by that please please please let's talk about them and squeal together and stuff) We can be best friends. ;)

But, because I couldn't narrow down the show or type of movie, I'm not giving full explanations for my reasoning. This post would be pages long if I did that. I'll try to give a sentence or two, though.

Here we go.


If you like Romcoms:
AttachmentsFangirl-Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

-Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

These are pretty obvious choices, Rainbow Rowell is a master at getting me to "Awww" (often out loud), while still having beautiful character development.

Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss, #2)Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)-Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

-Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Again, Stephanie Perkins is a master at squeal-worthy romance. These books are beautiful. [Here's a link to my summary of YALLFEST where I got to see Stephanie Perkins and Rainbow Rowell talk about why they love writing good guys as love interests]

If you like Action Movies:
The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)Legend (Legend, #1)-The Legend Trilogy

-The Maze Runner Trilogy

If you like gritty action, action that is non-stop and often crazy and intense, you'll love these series.

If You Like Marvel Movies:
Steelheart (Reckoners, #1)-Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Humor, action, and insanely high stakes combine into a unique and truly fantastic story. This movie also works to deconstruct many tropes in superhero movies, something that I have always thought Marvel does brilliantly through their brand of snarky humor.

If you like Doctor Who:
The Host (The Host, #1)The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1)-The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

-The Host by Stephanie Meyer

These book focus heavily on what it means to be human, much like Doctor Who's main theme. All three of these things examine humanity through the lense of human beings interacting with aliens, both the
hostile and the unexpectedly compassionate.

If you like Avatar: The Last Airbender
Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1)The Rithmatist (Rithmatist, #1)-The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

-The Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

These have the same sort of themes as Avatar. They dissect having power, Mistborn talks about war, they both talk about bias against people who are different than you. Each book has powers that are interesting and awesome, just like in Avatar.

If you like Merlin
The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1)Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle, #1)-Eragon by Christopher Paolini

-The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Both expansive, massive stories about young boys entrusted with powers, or objects, or missions, that they're not quite prepared for, or that they don't believe they are prepared for.

Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness, #1)
-Song of the Lioness Quartet

This is probably the best fit. I mean, Alanna comes to the capital city, befriends a prince and is entrusted with protecting him. Then she goes on multiple adventures, saves the kingdom multiple times, and grows up.

If you like Sherlock
The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes, #2)A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes, #1)THIS ONE MIGHT BE A SHOCK BUT

Sherlock books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Seriously. It's so fun getting all the little jokes that are worked into the show, and seeing the original Sherlock and Watson and how different, but the same their relationship is in the books.
So far I've only read A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four, but I loved them both.

If You Like Supernatural
Sweetly (Fairytale Retellings, #2)Sisters Red (Fairytale Retellings, #1)Jackson Pearce's Retelling books
Cold Spell (Fairytale Retellings, #4)Fathomless (Fairytale Retellings, #3)
These books involve chasing down paranormal creatures (namely, werewolves, mermaids, and ice queens). They have a bunch of sibling relationships, siblings with hard pasts or who are really codependent. There are even quite a few road trips. I think three of the four books include at least one road trip.
These books have action, heart, and fantastic character development.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Where She Went

Where She Went
By: Gayle Forman
Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)
It's been three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life. And three years he's spent wondering why. When their paths cross again in New York City, Adam and Mia are brought back together for one life-changing night. Adam finally has the opportunity to ask Mia the questions that have been haunting him. But will a few hours in this magical city be enough to lay their past to rest, for good - or can you really have a second chance at first love?
Again, I don't have too much to say about this book. I get why this series is so well loved, it's compelling, emotional, and very well written. Gayle Forman knows how to tell a story and how to use characterization to its full potential.
I liked If I Stay, but I enjoyed this one more. I felt for the characters more, and I think that was because Adam's narrative was much easier for me to connect with than Mia's. I still like the flashback format, I think it keeps the story fresh, even when not much is happening in the present (like at the beginning of this book). And I think this format worked better in this book than in If I Stay, if only because what was happening in the present was much less traumatic and yet no less emotional. I thought Adam was sort of bland in If I Stay, so I liked the pieces of family relationships we got much more. But in this book, I really liked Adam's character. He's cynical and jaded, but he wasn't always that way. I liked seeing my perception of him change, learning about his past piece by piece.
I do wish we learned more about Adam's parents. It felt like a very crucial missing piece, because they were only mentioned once or twice. Though I understand why they weren't necessary to the plot or the character development. They still felt absent, however.
As I said in my review of If I Stay, I understand why people love these books. They're really good stories with touching characters. I just didn't connect the characters as much as I wanted to. I felt for them, of course, and I liked them. I feel like I understood them fully, which is the sign of great characterization. But I didn't relate to them, which is important to me in contemporaries like this (in any book, really, but especially in contemporaries, which are typically less conceptual than fantasy, sci-fi, or dystopian).
One aspect of this book that I loved was the song lyrics before every chapter. It indirectly gave light to all that Adam felt  in those months after Mia. It made it feel like hurt more than exposition, even brilliant exposition, ever could. Thinking about Adam writing those words, singing them over and over again on tour, was one of the most painful parts of reading this book. Which I really loved.
“Standing here, in this quiet house where I can hear the birds chirping out back, I think I’m kind of getting the concept of closure. It’s no big dramatic before-after. It’s more like that melancholy feeling you get at the end of a really good vacation. Something special is ending, and you’re sad, but you can’t be that sad because, hey, it was good while it lasted, and there’ll be other vacations, other good times.”
“In the calculus of feelings, you never really know how one person's absence will affect you more than another's.”
“That’s the thing you never expect about grieving, what a competition
it is.”
“Except even at the start, when we were in that can't-get-enough-of-you-phase, there was like some invisible wall between us. At first I tried to take it down, but it took so much effort to even make cracks. And then I got tired of trying. Then I justified it. This was just how adult relationships were, how love felt once you had a few battle scars.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bookish Playlist #2.

Bookish Playlist: Part II
I did a bookish playlist early last year (you can find that here). I loved putting some of my favorite songs together with some of my favorite books. So this post has been quite a while in the works, but I finally have enough pairings that I love to post this.
The title of each book will have a link to my review of that book. The title of each song will have a link to a video where you can listen to the song.

Finnikin of the Rock-- Is There Anyone Out There by Delta Rae
Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles, #1)I think explanation is right there in the chorus, but this is a exile's song. It's full of references to be lost and small and alone. Yet there is a note of hope in it, they are carrying the fire for all those who could not return with them, for all those they lost along the way.

"Children born tomorrow may never know the language we speak...Is there anyone out there? You know me. I am the son of a lost country, of a new world."

Froi of the Exiles-- Dust Bowl Dance by: Mumford & Sons
Froi of the Exiles (Lumatere Chronicles, #2)This song has the heart of Froi and the grit and bitterness of Charyn. I can feel the regret and the soul of Froi in this song. I think about that book every time I listen to this song.

"I've been kicked off my land at the age of sixteen, and I have no idea where else my heart could have been. I placed all my trust at the foot of this hill, and now I am sure my heart could never be still."

Quintana of Charyn--The Cave by: Mumford & Sons
Quintana of Charyn (Lumatere Chronicles, #3)This could be a song for any of the relationships in this book. Isaboe and Finnikin, Quintana and Froi, Phaedra and Lucian. There is a sort of desperation to it, but there is also love.  I think this gets across the hope that is one of the major themes of this story.

"But I will hold on hope, and I won't let you choke on the noose around your neck. And I'll find strength in pain and I will change my ways. I'll know my name when it's called again."

The Diviners-- Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up) by: Florence and the Machine
The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)This song makes me think of Evie. It has that creepy vibe that finds its way throughout this book. This one is more about the feel of it for me, but really I think it fits pretty well.

"Who is the lamb and who is the knife?...before I make the final sacrifice."

Crown of Midnight--Howl by: Florence and the Machine
Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)For me, this is Calaena's ultimate assassin song. Every time she's hunting someone down or doing something else kick-butt, I picture this song in the background. I basically listened to this song on repeat when I was reading Crown of Midnight and the novellas. It has the desperate, distinct feel that the books give me, you know?

"Howl. Now there's no holding back, I'm making to attack. My blood is singing with your voice I want to pour it out. The saint's can't help me now, the ropes have been unbound. I hunt for you with bloody feet across the hallowed ground."

The Girl of Fire and Thorns--Blinding by: Florence and the Machine
The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)This song is Elisa's transformation for me. She's waking up, finding her power, realizing where she belongs in the world. She gets thrown into this very political situation and she has to find a way to work it out for herself.

"And I could hear the thunder and see the lightning crack. All around the world was waking, I never could go back. 'Cause all the worlds of dreaming, they were torn wide open."

Siege and Storm--Landscape by: Florence and the Machine
Siege and Storm (The Grisha, #2)Okay, I know this is my fourth Florence and the Machine song, but can you blame me? Florence and the Machine just understands these awesome female characters, you know?
I love how this song focuses a lot on natural imagery, angry oceans, snow, and storms. It has the feel that I imagine the in Ravka. It sounds sort of like a dark folk tale in its lyrics, which is how Leigh Bardugo's writing comes across as well, which I love.

"She's just like the weather, can't hold her together. Born from dark water, daughter of the rain and snow and it's burning through the bloodline, cutting down the family tree, rolling in the landscape, darling, in between you and me."

The Hunger Games--Reaching the Potential: A Silent Film
The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)This is my song for all tributes in the Games. You can hear the corruption in this song, the unfair system that the singer seems to have accepted. It's bitter, but not angry. This is not a rebellion song, just like The Hunger Games is not a rebellion book, not like the rest of the books are. That's what strikes me about the first book. The citizens of Panem had become so used to this heinous way of life, they were too tired and beaten down to do anything but keep living. That's why they needed a Mockingjay, that's why they needed Katniss.

"And anyway we know how we’re gonna get our bellies full. Living on a fault line. Are we reaching our potential? Animals in cages, actors on a payroll, and maybe in our lifetime. Are we reaching our potential? When you reach your potential, we reach our potential. We’ll be laughing with out bellies full."

Alanna: The First Adventure---Drop of Smoke by: Hudson Taylor
Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness, #1)I think this song combines the jaunty fun of this series with the determination and will of Alanna. I love the folk vibe for this series, especially the more upbeat kind of folk. It strikes at the younger feel of the series without lessening the appeal or being too simple for the tone of the books.

"I'll never stop the fighting, so bring me to your worst. I'll never stop believing, that I could rule the world one day, one day."

Mark of Athena---Sail by: AWOLNATION
The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus, #3)This song is epic and loud and fun. That's what Mark of Athena is, too. The seven are together, finally and they are traveling across an ocean to face an army of giants and the earth itself. But it's still fun, it's still an adventure. This song feels like it would be playing on the Argo II all the time, just blasting from the windows. I mean, to be more obvious, they're on a giant flying boat and the main lyric is "SAIL!" Sooooo... You know. (And also, "Blame it on my A.D.D.?" They're demigods! It's perfect!)

"Maybe I'm a different breed. Maybe I'm not listening. So blame it on my A.D.D., baby. Sail! Sail!"

The Final Empire --- Hold on to what you Believe by: Mumford and Sons
The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1)This song is, quite literally, perfect for this book. The verses sound exactly like the crew, particularly Vin and Kelsier. What was the crew doing in this book if not holding on firmly to what they believe, or more like, holding on to what Kelsier believed. There's doubt ("What if I was wrong?"), but then there is the voice of Sazed and Kelsier, urging the listener to believe, even in the dark, even in the light. Whenever I start missing the days when I read The Final Empire, I go and listen to this song and it makes me feel more connected with the book, even though I'm reading other things. (Oh gosh, that sounds like a break-up or something...). But really, this song should start playing when anyone asks for a summary of this book.

"But we're young, open flowers in the windy fields of this war-torn world. And love, this city breathes the plague of loving things more than their creators...Oh, what if I was wrong? But hold on to what you believe in the light when the darkness has robbed you of all your sight"

Faking Normal---Little Talks by: Of Monster and Men
Faking NormalChoosing a song for this book was important, if only because of how big a part music plays in the story, how much it helps Alexi. But the choice was pretty easy to choose in the end.
I love this song for it because it has a girl vocalist and a guy vocalist almost conversing with each other. It's very much like the book in that way. It feels like Alexi and Bodee to me. The singers answer each other, reminding the other that they're still there. And they talk about secrets and the things that haunt you, but it's more like the end of the book, when they are learning to let go of those things.

"I don't like walking around this old and empty house. So hold my hand, I'll walk with you, my dear
There's an old voice in my head that's holding me back. Well tell her that I miss our little talks. Soon it will be over and buried with our past. We used to play outside when we were young. and full of life and full of love. Cause though the truth may vary.  This ship will carry our bodies safe to shore."

Monday, April 21, 2014

TTT: Characters that I Would Be Best Friends With If I Could

Characters That I Would Be Best Friends With If I Could
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, I was going to call this week "Characters That Would Be Best Friends With Me", but then I realized that would be a totally different list. Because who knows if some of these awesome characters would even like me. ;) Just kidding, but these ARE the characters that I would love to zap out of their books so that we could be friends and kick butt together, or whatever they want to do. Hmmm... Or maybe I would zap myself into their books?
I'm going to cheat a little, so some of these are going to be groups of characters from books that I'd love to be friends with. Buuuuuut, yeah, I don't have an excuse. I just want to. ;)
Let's start with the groups first.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)Duh. I mean, of course this is number 1. But I guess I'll explain what I mean by "The Gang" Because I'm sure some people consider more characters or fewer characters than I am going to list. But for me, the gang I'd most want to be friends with are Harry, Ron, Hermione, Luna, Neville, Ginny, Fred, and George. Being friends with them would be an absolute blast. Plus, presumably, we would be at Hogwarts, WHICH WOULD BE THE COOLEST.
The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2)

2. Vin, Elend, and the Other Crewmembers
I know they get themselves into life-threatening situations 90% of the time, but these people are the best of the best. Truly kindhearted, though some of them like to hide it. And they're funny and talented and generally awesome. My particular favorites, besides Elend and Vin, are Kelsier, Clubs, and Breeze.
The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus, #3)
3. The Seven Half-Bloods Who Answer the Call
Percy, Annabeth, Frank, Hazel, Leo, Piper, and Jason. I love them all to the core of me. Hilarious and adventurous and capital A Awesome. I'd love to see the two camps, and fly on Festus and the Argo II, and have adventures with gods and monsters and other demigods.
Hmmmm... So far, the groups I've listed all have a talent for getting themselves in sticky, occasionally fatal situations. I wonder if that's a prerequisite for friendship with me?
Though I guess not because:
Little Women (Little Women, #1)4. The March Sisters
I have loved Little Women for so, so many years. And all throughout my childhood, I would wish that I could live with and be friends with the March girls. They're all so different and interesting, and the 1800s felt like a magic world to me then (though I know the difference now). Still, Jo in particular has always been a big inspiration for how I wanted to be when I grew up (a writer who is a strange mix of carelessness and passion).
The Night Circus
5. Poppet and Widget
The way they inducted Bailey always made me smile. And who better to take you on a tour of the Night Circus? Which is what I hope we would be doing. They're kind and funny and interesting.
Now I'll move on to individual characters that I'd love to be friends with.
5. Cath
Yes. Fangirl hit me so hard when I read it, partly because it's a wonderful story, and partly because I am reaching Cath's age and I happen to be a pretty big fangirl of books (obviously ;) ) and movies and tv shows and theater (of stories, basically). I understand the worries of figuring out college and writing and what friendship as adults should look like. So, to be friends with Cath, to figure these sort of things out while being friends with her would be amazing. But, for now I suppose I'll just have to gather courage from the words that she inhabits.
The Serpent's Shadow (Kane Chronicles, #3)
6. Sadie Kane
This girl. I mean, she's me in terms of style (combat boots for the win) and (I like to think, at least) in terms of sass. I see parts of my relationship with my older brother in her relationship with Carter. I think Carter and my brother would get along pretty well, too, as they both have to deal with "annoying" younger sisters who are slightly too dramatic for their own good. The only difference is that Sadie and Carter get to have huge adventures around the world, while me and my brother have to go to college.
The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, #3)
7. Peregrine Took
PIPPIN! Pippin is one of my very favorite characters from Lord of the Rings. He made me laugh and he made me cry. He's goofy, funny, but he has integrity and bravery. And he's a great friend to Merry, Frodo, and Sam. Very loyal and trustworthy.
I have a feeling, if I went to Middle Earth, I would search out Pippin first (well, Pippin or Eowyn).
8. Anna Oliphant
Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)I know that I've said that I see myself in two different characters on this list already (and I really don't say that often, so it means something), but I think that's why I'm choosing these characters, because we're compatible.
All of that to say, I see a part of myself in Anna, too. A couple of my friends, after reading Anna and the French Kiss, told me that Anna reminded them a lot of me (only with books as my passion, rather than movies). I could relate to the way Anna thought about herself and about others and about relationships in general. She has that sort of quirky humor that I like. I think we'd have a good time just hanging out together...preferably in Paris, of course.
Faking Normal9. Bodee
I recently read Faking Normal and what struck me was how Bodee was genuinely a nice guy. But not in an unrealistic or unrelatable way. I can say that I've known guys sort of like Bodee, in terms of true kindness. I loved his Kool-Aid hair and the way he cared about Alexi. Through everything he was going through personally, he still found time to help her deal with her situation.
Jane Eyre10. Jane Eyre
Who doesn't want to be friends with Jane? Well, whoever they are, I don't want to meet those people (kidding...sort of). She's strong, but vulnerable. I would say that she understands true friendship, despite having such an awful childhood. I love her thoughts on morality, religion, and love all throughout the book and would love to discuss deeper issues with her.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

If I Stay

If I Stay
By: Gayle Forman
If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)
Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it's the only one that matters.
The trailer made me do it. Honestly, I had no interest in Gayle Forman's books previously simply because I don't usually enjoy this genre, these kinds of stories. But then I watched the trailer and it looked really good. It looked like a movie I might be interested in seeing. So, of course, after establishing that, the next step was to actually read the book.
I get it. I do. I understand why there are so many rave reviews for this book and for Gayle Forman's writing in general. This book is a beautiful story told in a beautiful way. Gayle Forman is great at characterization, in getting across what you need to know about each character, quickly and through action rather than exposition.
This story is rooted in a simple idea, but is made complex and touching through flashbacks. I thought the format was pretty cool, once you get used to the switching back and forth. The language is simple, also, but powerful in the right places. I think that's the thing that draws people into these books, the simple, but powerful stories.
That being said, I didn't connect with this book like I have with others. I liked it. I saw the value in it, and could appreciate it for that. But this story didn't change me like it did for some people, and I don't want to pretend that it did. So I'm not going to fake that. This book is really great. I don't doubt for a second that it can and has touched a lot of people. It just wasn't that for me, which is fine.
I could go into the reasons why I didn't connect with this book or these characters, but I think that is less interesting to you than if I say that you should give this book a chance. It might not be a book that everyone will connect with, but it's a book that I think everyone can appreciate. So I'd give it a chance. Maybe it'll be that book for you.
“Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you.”  
“I realize now that dying is easy. Living is hard.”
“I'm not choosing, but I'm running out of fight.”

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Well of Ascension

The Well of Ascension
By: Brandon Sanderson
The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2)
The impossible has been accomplished. The Lord Ruler – the man who claimed to be god incarnate and brutally ruled the world for a thousand years – has been vanquished. But Kelsier, the hero who masterminded that triumph, is dead too, and now the awesome task of building a new world has been left to his young protégé, Vin, the former street urchin who is now the most powerful Mistborn in the land, and to the idealistic young nobleman she loves.
HOLY WOW. I loved The Final Empire (and wrote a glowing review for it here). But Sanderson has outdone even that beautiful monster of a book. This book surpassed my highest expectations for this series.

So here's how this review/discussion is going to work. The sections before the quotes are going to be strictly review with absolutely no spoilers for this book. But after the quotes will be the discussion section chock full of spoilers for both books in the series (because no one in my real life has read these books and I HAVE A LOT OF WORDS.)

I'll go more into each individual character in the spoilery section down below, but for now I'll say that these characters were so well developed. The honest characterization in this series is so wonderful. I feel like I understand every character, minor or not, every protagonist, every antagonist. You get a sense of who they are and why they are.
Vin became one of my favorite heroines in the last book, but in this one she solidly cemented her place there. Her struggles are so real, so grounded in realistic emotion. Her insecurities, her fears, her faults, I feel them all when she does.
Elend has also become an absolute favorite of mine. His character development in these two books have been off the charts, each page he's on making me appreciate his character even more. I'm dying to know what happens to him and to Vin and Sazed in the third book. I just hope it doesn't crush me.

That's all the characters that I can talk about without getting all spoilery, but know that The Well of Ascension expanded and built on every character established in The Final Empire in brilliant and mind-blowing ways. You see from so many perspectives, so many characters, and each one is unique and serves the plot in magnificent ways.

OH GOSH. THIS BOOK. This book sticks to its strengths. I mean, this is a ginormous book, reaching almost 800 pages. Yet never once was the story boring. There are slow bits, but never the kind of slow plot that you want to avoid. No, this is the kind of slow-burning plot in which you can feel the rising action in your bones and it is glorious.
Then, when crap happens (as it always must) the world implodes from insanity. Seriously, SO much happens and it's all shocking and brilliant and heartbreaking. This. Freaking. Book.

What was one of the crowning jewels of The Final Empire, became an entire jewel-covered throne in this book. One that I'm pretty sure Sanderson deserves in his home for creating this masterpiece of a world. The kandra, the koloss, the terris, the other dominances. They all became real, unavoidable things in this book. Rather than being explained, you saw them in action, you learned to understand them as the characters did, without the Lord Ruler to keep them in check. And it was terrifying. And it was wonderful.

I can't even explain how brilliant this book is, this series is. Some of the best works of fantasy that I have ever encountered. Some of the best world building I've ever experienced. I don't care who you are, or if you even like High Fantasy. Go into this series with an open mind, and you will be completely enthralled and engaged in this story. I promise.


"When you struggle so hard for life, you grow strong - but you can grow harsh, too."

"Good men don't become legends," he said quietly.
"Good men don't need to become legends...They just do what's right anyway."
"You would be surprised, I think, at what men can forget."
"She had lived with fear for so long that she had once seen it as something natural, like the ash, the sun, or the ground itself."
"My experience has been that the man is usually made by the situation."
"I don't know," Elend finally said, sitting back in his chair, sighing. "Vin isn' other women." Tindwyl raised an eyebrow, her voice softening slightly. "I think that the more women you come to know...the more you'll find that statement applies to all of them."

"They hate you," Vin said quietly. "They hate you because of your powers, because they can't make you break your word, or because they worry that you are too strong to control."
"They become afraid of you," Oreseur said. "They grow paranoid - terrified, even as they use you, that you will take their place. Despite the Contract, despite knowing that no kandra would break their sacred vow, they fear you. And men hate what they fear."
"And so," Vin said, "they find excuses to beat you. Sometimes, even your efforts to remain harmless seem to provoke them. They hate your skill, they hate the fact that they don't have more reasons to beat you, so they beat you."

"Good men can make terrible kings," Tindwyl noted. "But bad men cannot make good kings," Sazed said. "It is better to start with a good man and work on the rest, I think."

"He could accept people failings - even forgive them - but if he glossed over the problems, then they would never change."

"You understand very little about women, Elend Venture - especially young woman. To them, their competence has a surprisingly small amount to do with how they feel about themselves."

"You must love him enough to trust his wishes, even if you disagree with them. You must respect him - no matter how wrong you think he may be, no matter how poor you think his decisions, you must respect his desire to make them. Even if one of them includes loving you."

"At first glance, the key and the lock it fits may seem very different," Sazed said. "Different in shape, different in function, different in design. The man who looks at them without knowledge of their true nature might think them opposites, for one is meant to open, and the other to keep closed. Yet, upon closer examination, he might see that without one, the other becomes useless. The wise man then sees that both lock and key were created for the same purpose."

"Yes," Vin said. "But it doesn't matter - not the way you made it seem. Elend uses me. Kelsier used me. We use each other, for love, for support, for trust."
"Trust will kill you," he said.
"Then it is better to die."

"Which was more potent? The pain of memory, or the pain of forgetting? He was a Keeper - it was his life's work to remember. Forgetting, even in the name of personal peace, was not something that appealed to him."


Okay, guys, okay. OH MY FREAKING GOSH. I have so many feelings. So many reactions. AHHHHH.
Sorry, I'm going to try and compose myself. Let's start with characters. This will be much more in depth than anything I did up there ^^^ and with more rambling. If you're interested in cohesive words, then this probably isn't the best place to look. I have a feeling this will just be my thoughts and reactions to each character and the plot.

Oreseur/TenSoon: I didn't want to like him at the beginning, just like Vin didn't. But I couldn't help it. The kandra are so mysterious, but he really grew on me. He legitimately made me laugh out loud a couple of times. His and Vin's friendship hurt because it was so based on their troubled pasts, on the way people took advantage of them.
Time he made me laugh:
"I could always eat one of them, if you wish," Oreseur said. "That might speed things up."
Vin paused.
Oreseur, however, had a strange little smile on his lips. "Kandra humor, Mistress. I apologize. We can be a bit grim."
Vin smiled. "They probably wouldn't taste very good anyway. Ham's far too stringy, and you don't want to know the kinds of things that Breeze spends his time eating..."
"I'm not sure," Oreseur said. "One is, after all, named 'Ham.' As for the other..." He nodded to the cup of wine in Breeze's hand. "He does seem quite fond of marinating himself."

Time he hurt my heart:
"They hate you," Vin said quietly. "They hate you because of your powers, because they can't make you break your word, or because they worry that you are too strong to control."
"They become afraid of you," Oreseur said. "They grow paranoid - terrified, even as they use you, that you will take their place. Despite the Contract, despite knowing that no kandra would break their sacred vow, they fear you. And men hate what they fear."
"And so," Vin said, "they find excuses to beat you. Sometimes, even your efforts to remain harmless seem to provoke them. They hate your skill, they hate the fact that they don't have more reasons to beat you, so they beat you."

I am so excited to see what role he plays in The Hero of Ages.

Sazed: He's been a favorite of mine since the first book. But now he's going through so much, so many struggles with belief and faith and whether his life is meaningful or not. Then with losing Tindwyl... My soul hurts for him. I love that we saw more from his perspective in this book. I'm hoping for even more of that to come. His inner turmoil is the heart of this story. Faith, hope, and meaning in resisting. It's all found in Sazed.

Elend: Hold up now. Elend Venture is a FREAKING MISTBORN? AND THE NEW EMPEROR?  Ahhhhh. I don't... I just... AHHH. Does this mean we're going to see some battles fought couple-style? Elend and Vin against all sorts of crazy enemies? SOMEONE SAY YES.

Also, I'd like to say that Vin and Elend's relationship is one of my favorite literary relationships ever. They are so wonderful to each other because they are willing to try to support and trust one another. They don't often let themselves get complacent. Their interactions make my heart inexplicably happy.
I love how Elend doesn't push down Vin's feelings of paranoia, and he doesn't dismiss them easily. He tries to see what she sees and have open discussions about them. And I love how Vin loves Elend's morals, his principles, even if she occasionally thinks things could be handled in a better way. She understands that he is a good man, a great man.
"Don't feel bad, Vin," Elend said. "You lived a long time on your own, without anyone to trust. Nobody expects you to change overnight."
"It hasn't been one night, Elend," she said. "It's been two years."
Elend laid a hand on her knee, "You're getting better. The others talk about how much you've changed."
Vin nodded. Another man would be afraid I'm keeping secrets from him, too. Elend just tries to make me feel less guilty. He was a better man than she deserved."

"Elend paused just briefly. "You're always free to do what you want, Vin. But, I kind of think it's pretty longer."
It stays then."

"Tindwyl paused, looking at Vin. "And you. You are so much more than you are willing to accept, child. Why look at only one side of yourself, when your Elend sees so much more?"

Besides that, Elend himself is a brilliant character. He's idealistic, but he learns to be a ruler as well as a good man. I loved watching his evolution, his moves away from timid and toward being assured and strong. I also loved how that didn't change every aspect of who he is. He was still himself, just a more kingly version of himself. It's a miracle that Elend turned out like he did, especially now that we've seen Straff and Zane so extensively and how messed up they are.

Favorite Elend Moments:
"I can be foolhardy as any man, Elend thought indignantly, then paused. Did he really want to follow that line of thought?"
"I... I want to be more than my ideas..."
"The difference was surprising. All his life, he'd seen himself as a scholar and socialite, but also as just a bit of a fool. He was Elend - the friendly, comfortable man with the funny ideas. Easy to dismiss, perhaps, but difficult to hate."

Marsh: I don't know about Marsh. I know he's going to be super important in the next book and most likely in the resolution of the story. But I have no idea how the Inquisitors play into it. What are they doing in Terris? What is their purpose? What do they know about the world that we don't?

Koloss: Now that Vin can control them, what part will they have in the action? And how many can one Mistborn control at once? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

I am so sad. I love this crew, every member. Clubs was a favorite, but now he and Dockson are dead. I'm going to admit something. I cried so hard when the crew were facing down the Koloss, when Clubs died, when Breeze went into shock.
I loved Clubs and Breeze's burgeoning friendship. How they were so different, but they found a way to understand each other. How they knew who they were and who they weren't.
"But we aren't that kind of people," Breeze said. "We're thieves and scammers. We shouldn't care. I mean...I've gotten so bad that I Soothe scullery maids so that they'll have a happier time at work! I might as well start dressing in pink and carrying around flowers. I could probably make quite a bundle at weddings."
Clubs snorted. Then he raised his cup. "To the Survivor," he said. "May he be damned for knowing us better than we know ourselves."

The way the prophecy is worked in this book, through the end of it, is completely brilliant. It completely turns the series on its head, subverting one of the biggest tropes in fantasy. That's a pretty ambitious thing to do 2/3rds of the way through the series, but I'm more than positive that Sanderson can pull it off.

So, something I wasn't expecting, but I really appreciate Allriane as a character. She isn't a simple one-sided character, even though she's only in a few scenes. She's complex and pretty dang awesome. The opposite of Vin on the outside, but in reality, I think the two would get along if there were less pretense.  
I mean, THIS:
"If you want to protect me, Father," she yelled, "you'd better charge!" With that, she turned and started galloping again, her horse throwing up puffs of snow."

I'm going to miss Tindwyl, too. I thought she was a fantastic character. She understood him like so few do, even Vin most of the time.
"Other men are strong like bricks - firm, unyielding, but if you pound on them long enough, they crack. You... you're strong like the wind. Always there, so willing to bend, but never apologetic for the times when you must be firm. I don't think any of your friends understand what a power they had in you."

Now I have to decide if I'm going to read The Hero of Ages right away, like my brain is begging me to. Or if I'm going to wait and draw out this beautiful series for as long as I can.

Monday, April 14, 2014

TTT: Bookish Things I'd Like to Own

Top Ten Bookish Things (That Aren't Books) That I'd Like To Own
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.
1. Full Hogwarts Uniform
Preferably Ravenclaw, as that's my house and preferably with a cloak, because my awesome levels would go through the roof. (And don't think for a second that I wouldn't wear it with absolutely no shame.)

2. Tall Bookshelves
Right now I just have five really short ones (three shelves tall), so to have two or three bookshelves that are five or six shelves tall would be wonderful. (Sadly, there just isn't room)

These things are, simply put, the absolute coolest. I want every wall of my home to look like this.

4. A Reading Nook
Who doesn't want this? With a nice window and a few shelves to keep your favorites on. A comfy chair or padded bench to read the day away on.
Oh goodness. Take me there.

5. Time Turner
Because magic.

6. More Signed Books
I went to YALLFEST last year, which was one of the best weekends of my life. I met and listened to some of my favorite authors and got to be around bookish people who loved the same stories that I do. I only had time to get 6 books signed, because I spent most of my times listening to discussions (a decision I don't regret in the slightest). But I do hope to go to many more signings in the future.
Charlotte Brontë - Jane Eyre (2 cover options) - Literary Locket
7. Other Bookish Jewelry
(I love the necklaces that are tiny versions of book covers)

8. Classics Sweatshirts
I particularly love these two that I've seen, but really I love any type of bookish apparel. Be it bags, sweatshirts, tee-shirts, or anything else that you can come up with.

9. Transparent Book Weight
This invention is beautiful. Someone direct me to where I can throw my money at anyone who will let me purchase one.