Something Strange & Deadly Book Club: Weeks Three & Four

SS&D book club

If you’ve followed my SS&D book club posts, you will know that Epic Reads chooses a new book to read every month. Lo and behold: excitement! Because Susan Dennard’s Something Strange & Deadly was chosen for August, and Susan sprinkled in extra SS&D fun by hosting her own book club. Not only was A Darkness Strange & Lovely added, but an assortment of weekly prizes. As if that weren’t enough, there is an additional participatory prize of A Dawn Most Wicked or a cut scene from A Darkness Strange & Lovely–just for participating in one discussion. Pretty awesome, am I right? This week’s prizes are:

  • a signed copy of A Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  • a signed copy of Something Strange & Deadly or A Darkness Strange & Lovely
  • signed SS&D swag

Well, today marks the end of the SS&D book club, and I’m sad to see it go. (But keep an eye out for its return next year!) Last week I turned lazy and missed the third discussion, so–just for the sake of it–I’ve lumped it in with this week’s question. I’d hate to ignore week three completely! Seeing as how today, Sunday, is the September 1st, I might’ve missed the deadline to enter for this week’s prizes. No matter, because the discussion questions alone pique my interest and, as a sucker for book discussions, I enjoyed answering them. To see my answers for weeks three and four, continue reading below the cut: Continue reading

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Something Strange & Deadly Book Club: Week Two

SS&D book club

Over at Epic Reads, a new book club read is chosen each month. For August, Epic Read’s pick is one of my favorite comfort books: Susan Dennard’s Something Strange & Deadly. Well, Susan decided to spice up this month’s SS&D fun by hosting her own book club, and by adding A Darkness Strange & Lovely and prizes into the mix as well. Each week is an opportunity to win other great books–including signed hardcovers!–as well as a participatory prize of A Dawn Most Wicked or a deleted scene from A Darkness Strange & Lovely. Read more about it here and sign up if you like!

This week’s question is a difficult one to answer, and I can’t say I responded with eloquence—but I hope it’s lucid enough, however weak. (Sorry!) Continue reading, if you dare, below the cut: Continue reading

Something Strange & Deadly Book Club: Week One

SS&D book club

Over at Epic Reads, a new book club read is chosen each month. For August, Epic Read’s pick is one of my favorite comfort books: Susan Dennard’s Something Strange & Deadly. Well, Susan decided to spice up this month’s SS&D fun by hosting her own book club, and by adding A Darkness Strange & Lovely and prizes into the mix as well. Each week is an opportunity to win other great books–including signed hardcovers!–as well as a participatory prize of A Dawn Most Wicked or a deleted scene from A Darkness Strange & Lovely. Read more about it here and sign up if you like!

I had lots of fun answering both discussion questions this week (they were both too interesting, and I had things to say!), which you can read below the cut: Continue reading

Comforting your sick, lazy self + Twitter

What a fancy seeing me here! I’ve kept quiet for almost the entirety of July, I am well aware. Blogging sat in the back of mind for a couple of weeks, and then it invaded my conscience and found a voice. It said things like, “Post!” and “Review!” and I said, “No.” After leaving one of the more stressful school years behind this spring, I felt I deserved a break. I was done. Kaput. Out of energy. I wanted a vacation from cramped schedules and due dates and ARC reading. Well, I cannot do anything about the books I’ve received for review, but I did–clearly–go away for a short while. It wasn’t all fun: I first came down with a two-week bug followed by a bout of laziness, or you might say my two-week bug was laziness followed by more laziness.

medical conditional called laziness

During this great period of Doing Nothing, I read a bit of this book and that book, watched a show here and there… Which made me think: I love comfort books. But not only that. I also love TV shows and movies for comfort, especially ones I can watch on repeat a hundred times. In every sense of the word, I am a book nerd, though I’d be lying if I said I don’t love sitting in front of the screen for hours just a bit more than reading.

comfort reading

If I feel flu-ish or like a couch potato, I become drawn to certain books that meet certain criteria. When sick, there is no chance I’ll seek a book weighted in politics, intricate plots, and complex storylines. All of these qualities, when brought to life by good writing, can make an excellent piece of literature, but who wants that with a fogged brain? I demand light and simple yet interesting. I don’t want a book whose plot flies ten feet above my ability to grasp it, but I don’t want a book that puts me to sleep either. To name some personal favorites, I compiled a few lists…

1. I love a book that can wow me. A book that’s unique, emotionally compelling, and intelligent. My reading, however, should never be restricted to “smart” or “impressive” novels–reading should be fun, and that entails rehashed plots or predictability equally as much as it entails originality. So long as the reader enjoys the book, who cares?  Straight-forward books that offer non-complex world-building often become some of my favorite comfort material, and here are only a select number of preferred light reading:

anna

*Anna & The French Kiss and I didn’t get off on good footing the first time around, but now–well, yes. I understand the book’s appeal. I understood it the first time I read it, but that understanding is now on par with zealous fans. I’m not a zealous fan–just to be clear–but I like this novel for how simple and light it proves to be. It’s predictable with the perfect about of fluff and drama, and once you accept Anna & the French Kiss for it is, you just might like it, too

2. One word: manga!

Ladies & Gentlemen: Mikasa Ackerman of Shingeki no Kyojin & why she's top BAMF. You are welcome.

Ladies & Gentlemen: Mikasa Ackerman of Shingeki no Kyojin & why she’s top BAMF. You are welcome.

I stand before you at the cusp of entering a manga obsession. I’ve never been a manga person, as I can count on one hand the number of manga I’ve read before this week (two). Having finished EVERYTHING that is currently available of Shingeki no Kyojin (SNK/Attack on Titan), I died. Then, upon realizing that SNK is not the only manga out there, I undied and began my search. I’m brand new at this–a beginner. I can’t provide a decent recommendation list, but I will say that–just like any novel–manga storylines are either complex or simple.  Not all are mind-blowing or likable, but the added bonus of a good manga artist and writer (not to forget: a good translator) make even the sophisticated plots fairly comprehensible. I appreciate this.

e7: blue mondaySo on that note:

*The Eureka 7 manga is an adaption of the original anime show of the same name. Between the two, I highly recommend the anime.

3. Those books I will re-read and re-read and… re-read…

When it comes to reading, my biggest problem is allowing myself to get swept up in one book only to be distracted by three more. I don’t accomplish too many re-reads for this reason, but the aforementioned titles are books I will re-read in an instant. They remain as some of my personal favorites, and I give high praise to each. Whenever I’m down with a cold, this is a handful of what I reach for on my shelf.

Fact: Something Strange & Deadly is my favorite comfort book to re-read. At four read-throughs, it’s my second-most read book (only topped by A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness).

film preview

Maybe it’s because I’m a nostalgic person–or perhaps it’s because I loved my mother’s pampering when I was little–but when I’m sick or avoiding chores, I seek things which define my childhood: Spice Girls, Harry Potter, Disney, and well…

1. “Family-fun movies”

2. Shows that know a good time…

Unless you’re my grandmother who solely lives for Lifetime movies, there is a high chance you will enjoy these shows. I will watch every single episode back-to-back–recycle and repeat; no rinse.

*Now, bumping into people who refuse to watch ATLA is almost as frustrating as discovering people who deny watching it. If you think you’re too old for ATLA and LOK, if you think you’re too old for anything animated, then get out of my face or prepare to be agni kai’d off this planet. I will burn you into ashes of shame and humiliation from which you will never rise. Insulting these shows is outrageous. It’s blasphemous. You don’t stomp over a sacred creation without consequence. Thank and bless Michael Dimartino and Bryan Konietzko, amen.

atla water tribe

Speaking of, Korra’s second season is coming this September! Who else feels excited?

3. Re-visiting a few more childhood favorites…

I am sorry? You don’t like Pokémon or Sailor Moon? We cannot be friends.

twitterYes, I am now on Twitter. Maybe? I am here! But, uh, not tweeting. I am intelligent enough to create a Twitter account, but I am not intelligent enough to tweet. Standby as I finish Twitter for Dummies. In the meantime, drop me a comment, because feed is superbly boring when there’s no one to spam it.

Tell me: What are your favorite shows and books to revisit?

A little bit of reading…

Or at least I would like this week to involve a little bit of reading. It’s July 2nd, which means the Summer Lovin’ Read-A-Thon officially kicked off yesterday. I found myself on the busy side of things, so I accomplished little reading. Today, I hope, will not be a repeat of yesterday! Either way, I took a trip downtown for a scheduled library raid to pick up several books. Although most of the books I plan to read are from the library, I won’t make an official Library Loot post. I don’t have an exact “reading schedule,” either, but here is what’s set for Summer Lovin’ week!

reading 1

CURRENTLY READING:

I thought I would have finished Neftzger’s book by now, and I easily could have. I enjoy her writing and the story immensely, told in fairy tale-like fashion, and the book proves highly readable. What stands between me and finishing The Orphanage of Miracles are other books! You might say I started Summer Lovin’s Read-A-Thon a few days early, as I took the weekend to read up through the third book in Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness series. (What can I say? The series is addicting. Thank you, Tamora Pierce.)

As you can see, I also started Battle Royale. This is for Underrated Bookers, a group run by Rebecca (thebooker) on Goodreads. From the Underrated Book Project, books are chosen each month. For this month, the group picked books from the dystopian genre: Battle Royale, Ready Player One, and The Darkest Minds, so if you’d like to take part feel free to join the group! (You do not have to read all three books.)

Moving on to library books, now…

LL 1

I’m starting the library loot list off with leftovers. Yes: these are the very same books from two weeks ago. You can bet I’ll finish Lioness Rampant, if not this week then certainly by the following week.

LL 2

I am terribly excited to read this stack! I’ve said recently that I am itching for fantasy and steampunk, and, well… steampunk took over. My one and only worry is that I won’t enjoy these books as much as I’d like to. I can’t say I’m new to steampunk, as I do love the fashion and steampunk concepts that are used in films, but I am new to steampunk in literature. I’ve read so-so and mixed reviews for The Pearl Wars and Boneshaker–though I must say that my eagerness to read them doesn’t waver. I think the most promising out of these three might be Westerfeld’s Leviathan. His Uglies series isn’t for me, but Leviathan sure does have an appeal.

LL 3

Again: another great stack I look forward to. The Darkest Minds has sat on my to-read shelf since before its publication, and I am hoping to use Underrated Bookers as an excuse to finally read it. The sequel is due out soon enough, so I really do hope to make room for it at some point during July.

Of course, I believe I mentioned The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and Wildwood Dancing in a Top Ten Tuesday post, which I still hope to read before summer turns into fall. I admit that I’m most antsy to start Jemisin’s book, as the summary and cover have a fancy, wondrous appeal that I have trouble denying.

LL 4

Sky Castle is a quick children’s picture book, which I discovered in the library’s catalog as I hunted down steampunk titles. Just to clarify: Sky Castle is NOT a children’s steampunk picture book, but I don’t deny the allure of one. I also have Melina Marchetta’s The Piper’s Son here, and I’m awfully excited to read it. I loved Saving Francesca, so I am eager to start the companion novel, like, right now.

Naturally, as an ATLA fanatic, I need to read The Search, where Zuko teams up with Azula to discover the truth of what happened to their mother. I weep tears of joy. Really, I do–and for a couple of reasons. The first being: Azula. She alone is one of the best villains I love to love, and I love her character all-around. (As I do Zuko. How can you not like him?) Secondly: we may finally learn the truth! ATLA’s finale slapped me across the face when the creators left this cliff hanger dangling on all of our faces.

Last up…

book 2Yes, we all know I picked up Battle Royale to read and finish, but the one book–above all other books–I am dying to read is Airman by Eoin Colfer!

Eee! What is that sound? Squeals of excitement and bliss.

Once I finish The Orphanage of Miracles and Battle Royale, which books am I picking up next? Who knows. As much as I want to read Airman, I am known for neglecting my own books so that I can plow through towers of library loot. I’m also a mood-ish reader, and I will waste a day trying to figure out which book out the many I should read.

Problem solved:

reading mug

I point out: the creepy-faced reading mug, for it has an actual face, and I refuse to drink from it.

I pooled together titles that interest me and wrote their names on paper scraps before placing them in my “reading mug.” If I ever have difficulty choosing what to read, I can blindly pick a title. Suddenly: choices becomes less problematic.

(Remember: sign-ups for the Summer Lovin’ read-a-thon are open through July 6th! Just before the 24-hour reading marathon starts.)

Happy reading!

Top 5 graphic novels that I read in 2012

I feel as though in the very instant Time moved beyond the last second that marked 2011’s end, I transformed into a mad person. A person hellbent on reading everything — everything and anything that contained words and consisted of plot and coherence. I wanted not just to consume, but devour literature like I do that velvet cake. My sleep schedule became less and less of a schedule as it diminished — courtesy of late-night reads and the general type of insomnia I wouldn’t mind doing time for murdering (if it were an entity) — and sleep became “that thing I sometimes do in twenty-minute intervals the instant I get home with a 1 to 2 hour ‘nap’ before a caffeine spazz.” 2012 marks the year that I let my hobby to get the best of me. I am responsible for letting my life grow into a much scarier giant of chaos than it should have been.

Essentially: I am responsible for not being responsible.

All things considered, however, I think I’m doing fairly well. Not to forget that I appear to have a sharper handle on this “book problem,” so I welcome 2013 with a saner mind frame. Yet, even with all the poor choices I made  — choices that caused me to huff and puff, to kick and scream, and at myself — I faced both ugly and brilliant literary works. In the worst of times, when I felt too tired or apathetic to care, and I felt my book love pouring out, I sought out illustrative works. When I see a page washed entirely in words and react by scooting away from it, I discovered solace in picture books and graphic novels.

I am not a stranger to graphic novels, but I craved more as I grew friendlier with various styles and genres. If anything, I grew to appreciate the power some graphic novels have and blow off any previous judgments I’d constructed. Because guess what? Graphic novels can stimulate the mind just as much as they can dazzle the eye, so here are my personal top 5 graphic novels read in 2012:

1. Batman, Vol. 1: The Court of OwlsBatman, Vol. 1: The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Greg Capullo & Jonathan Glapion
The Court of Owls, New 52 style! A graphic novel in which Snyder has teamed up with illustrators Capulla and Glapion, creating a new reinterpretation of Batman that packs a mighty punch. If you think the cover is a looker, wait until you crack the spine and move to the flow of this plot. You will witness my jaw unhinge if you dare tell me the grand duo of illustration and writing aren’t so grand. By the volume’s end, I saw how brilliant a story can be when art and words clash into one and create a gorgeous being. The Court of Owls is filled with mystery upheld by an eery sense of power that can only level out to be a commendable Batman foe.

2.IKG I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly, illustrated by J.M. Ken Niimura
Unlike some readers profess, I cannot say that this Kelly and Niimura collaboration resulted in me blotting a tissue to my face. Regardless, I did feel rather touched by Barbara’s struggle to face reality. Her imagination is almost — almost! — an untameable creature, larger than life that viciously consumes. The art left me astounded in such a way that I crave just to peek at it. I admire the writing as well, as each character truly has a personality all their own, and the moment imagination and the “real world” smack together and blur the line is something I can’t forget. Barbara is a relatable character for anyone who has opposed life’s negatives, but the story itself is one to remember for all the giants we stand against.

3. PersepolisThe Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Looking back on my education, pre-college, I always find that I feel immensely disappointed by it. In particular, I am sad and nearly appalled by the limited topics and narrow perspectives in which lessons were taught. It is for this reason that I value books like Satrapi’s Persepolis. As a graphic novel memoir, Marjane Satrapi recounts her experiences growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution — and later: an adolescent adventures in Vienna and a return to home — in honesty. The narrative seeps no sugarcoating, but manages delightful humor that blends with horrors of war and that awkward stage called Growing Up.

4. Hell BabyHell Baby by Hideshi Hino
I’m a showcase of goosebumps! No, wait. That is cold air making an entrance. The one thing classic gore can deliver is a very bored or disgusted expression to my face. Gore has never been something I fear, which I suspected Hell Baby to be: gore and nothing more. But let me clarify: that judgement is incorrect. There is gore to be had (and lots of it), but with a fat side dish of entirely different kinds of fear: rejection, abandonment, belonging, and love. What unfolds throughout these pages is a story that takes a sudden emotional leap. I was defenseless against my own feelings, because I had grown to understand and yes, care for, the main character. She is a cannabilist, but I love her… and I cried for her.

5. The Last MusketeerThe Last Musketeer by Jason
Although “quirky” and “unique” fit the label, I puzzle over how else to describe The Last Musketeer. By far, Jason provided me the most fun experience I had with a book this year. Not once does the humor peel from the pages to show off its conceited self, gasping, See how funny I am? The subtle delivery of wit and odd or silly lines is all that is required. Jason displays talent with tact, neatly bundled in this fun, enjoyable book about The Last Musketeer who saves Earth from Mars’ diabolical ruler.

My 2013 book pile and New Year bookish resolutions

Purchased & Unread

(Note of warning: long post ahead!)

My muscles were tight from tension before classes started this autumn, and constant exam-cramming allowed this tense, jittery feeling to double in size. I call it The Stress Monster, and it haunts me. (It haunts a lot of people, I know — practically everyone. There’s an entire population of Stress Monsters.) This invisible creature nearly stabbed my reading interest to death, but as it happened: my reading interest left before that could occur. I simply did not want to read. I did not want to read anything.

I wanted sleep  sleep   sleep    s l e e p.

I spent hours hidden beneath covers and crashing on the living room couch these last few months. I split motivation between willing myself into a bedblob versus maintaining status as “acceptable student and probably a responsible adult.” If it was one thing I took away from fall quarter, it is admitting when I will not have time to read a book. Not only that, but I learned how easy it is to toss something aside and feel relieved.

Wow. I realized that butting my desperate desire to read ALL THE BOOKS against life equates to more stress, because: ugh, I don’t have time to read all those and do that and this, even though I’d like to read all those and still have time for that and this. I struggled to get out of bed, hobbled to class, slumped in chairs, whined, whined some more, and managed to pull enough of myself together to earn an A in the one pain-in-the-arse class: statistics. (I feel quite proud of myself, see, see.) So what this all leads up to is…

For the first time in a long time, I have no library book requests. Let me repeat: no book requests at the library.  …With the exception of a few graphic novels (and by “few,” I do mean “few.” I know: shocking). Although I expect my schedule to carry on in the same, if not more, amount of busy, I made certain to leave my mornings free (God, yes). It might seems like a small detail to some, but to keep it short: I am not a morning person, and when I’m not rushing around to make it somewhere by 8 AM, my energy receives an automatic boost. I’m calm. I’m clear-headed. Yay.

Before anyone takes a bet on how long my disinterest in library books lasts, I have resolutions. Yes: actual resolutions, and it will do me good to stick by them when Real Life keeps hogging Free Time. For starters:

  • REVIEW MORE. School takes away from this, but I have challenged myself to read and review at least 12 book. This is courtesy of The Mad Reviewer’s reading challenge, which you can read about here and here.
  • Do not buy books unless I plan to read them in the month they are purchased. A problem I have is snatching books up because I want them, and because I want them I also want to read them. Sadly, I rarely get around to the reading part.
  • Pick no more than 3 reading challenges. I know I am not alone in challenging myself to a challenge too many. Too many, in fact, that it is by some miracle that I complete one.
  • Restrict library privileges. Ooh, this sounds harsh to me, but one reason I hold off on reading books I own is because I constantly check out other books from the library. And then? I check out so many books from the library that I can’t read all of the library books. And then I experience separation anxiety and accumulate large fines.

With all that said, however, I still have books I want to read that sit on my own shelves, which brings me to my last bookish resolve: Read at least 5 books I currently own. Five is a good number, right? As long as I keep away from the library, I can actually read my books! A good chunk includes (a book pile I don’t think I can possibly get through in one year, but…):

booksbooksbooks

This list includes the result of October’s book-buying-spree, and I intentionally excluded Gone with the Wind — a book I purchased years ago, and I often wonder if I will ever read it. In any case, my 2013 doesn’t want anything to do with Margaret Mitchell. Before (and if) I jump into HP #7 (because new books distract me so…), I will re-read the first six books. If you are interested in doing a Harry Potter read-along with me, or any books you spy here, please contact me and do not feel shy. Read-alongs keep me focused until the book’s end. (Now I know of at least one HP group read-along that begins in January, but I’m likely to begin in late March or spring. I love education, but sometimes it feels like a nuisance.)

Another book I want to add is one that has not come in yet: The Berlin Boxing Club  by Robert Sharenow. Any day now, B&N… Call me.

The Berlin Boxing Club

Karl Stern has never thought of himself as a Jew; after all, he’s never even been in a synagogue. But the bullies at his school in Nazi-era Berlin don’t care that Karl’s family doesn’t practice religion. Demoralized by their attacks against a heritage he doesn’t accept as his own, Karl longs to prove his worth.

Then Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German hero, makes a deal with Karl’s father to give Karl boxing lessons. A skilled cartoonist, Karl never had an interest in boxing, but now it seems like the perfect chance to reinvent himself.

But when Nazi violence against Jews escalates, Karl must take on a new role: family protector. And as Max’s fame forces him to associate with Nazi elites, Karl begins to wonder where his hero’s sympathies truly lie. Can Karl balance his boxing dreams with his obligation to keep his family out of harm’s way?

And I cannot neglect these holiday books I received! I missed the Secret Santa book exchange at Broke & the Bookish by one day. One day. It was unfortunate timing, but I did do an exchange with Savindi and the Secret Santa event is now forever on my mind in the form of a post-it note.

Savindi was smart and sent my gifts out well before the holiday craze, so I had the pleasure of finding I am the Messenger  and Frankenstien in my mailbox weeks ago. (Thank you!) Meanwhile, I am praying the mail(wo)men treat Savindi’s package with TLC and more importantly: do not lose it. (I am also anxious to hear Savindi’s reaction, and I hope it arrives very, very soon!)

Holiday giftsA few other books I haven’t yet read and received:

I want to read each and every one with equal amount of excitement, which only makes it difficult to choose which to read first! I love my daily dose of mentally unwell characters (The Burn Journals) as I do a good classic or dystopia. I should spend my money well, because if I do get around to Dashner’s book, I will most certainly grab the next two installments as soon as possible.

(I say this, because there are great number of 2013 book releases. Naturally I wish to have them all.)

 

 

Last to list are my want-to-re-reads! Harry Potter books 1 – 6, not pictured, reside in spirit.

Re-reads

I care what people have to say about Charlie and his friends, about Chbosky’s writing, about the style and content. And that is just it: I care. I care so much that you might as well say I’m intrinsically bound to it. Me and Charlie. We connect. I’ve stuck myself to this story, or it has stuck to me like an extra limb, but several years have flown by since my last Chbosky encounter. Quick to read, Perks is where almost every sentence is a quotable line and I would love to give it another go… before I watch the movie.

Hartman’s novel, I bet you already guessed, is one book I am positively re-reading before the sequel. Sometimes it takes an extra shove, but the wonder in re-reads comes from new discoveries as well as re-discoveries — noticing details I didn’t see before and giving myself the chance to sit back and enjoy a book I already know is great.

Likewise, I would love to read Standiford’s novel (How to Say Goodbye in Robot) again as well. I read Bea and Jonah’s coming-of-age story during a time when my blog remained inactive, unofficial, not sure what to do with itself, and existed as a waste of Internet space. My GoodReads account was not fully active, either, and reviews don’t write themselves. I felt surprised to feel as touched as I did by this book, and I think it deserves some commentary.

So. Has anyone else thought about what they might like to read from their shelves in the new year?

**

Before signing off, I’d like to acknowledge those who nominated Midnight Coffee Monster for the Liebster Blog award. I was named not once or twice, but three times. Thank you to Enchanted by Books, Just One Monkey Typing, and PidginPea’s Book Nook! I did not forget, but I did get busy.

Until next time–

goobye and don't die