WWW Wednesdays #3

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Anyone can participate — just answer the questions!

What are you currently reading?
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and my aunt’s copy of The Host (will I ever make it past page 23?!) have been properly shelved — like all other books I own — as I cut down a stack I call The Tower of Library Loot. Its height remains 11 books tall as I type, but all this seems pointless when I have another 8 books on hold and 2 in transit. (I don’t plan it this way. I request books based on their popularity and availability, yet they all seem to pile up so quickly. They’re daring me to read them all.) Essentially, the tower will never allow itself to consist of just one — or even a few — books, but I can try. As part of my lame effort to plow through library books, I’m reading Fuyumi Ono’s Sea of Shadow (The Twelve Kingdoms Vol. 1).

The creature was coming down too fast. She didn’t know how to use a sword; she didn’t have the courage to fight. She was defenseless.

More like useless. Yoko’s faults congregate into ugly character traits that highlight these deficiencies. Courage doesn’t have a home in Yoko, and if she ever experiences bravery I hope she doesn’t see it as a foreign invader and succumb to fear. Don’t get the wrong idea — I very much enjoy the swiftness of this story, how the writing neither drags nor lacks. It’s not smashed to ruins by excessive detail or poor writing, and it’s not thinned by inept skill. I can’t compare how the translation holds up to the original, but the pace and amount of description are enough to satisfy me. Reviews promise that Yoko’s character, while annoying at first, does evolve. It is difficult to imagine that her character remains a distressed damsel who no one wants to save, so until then: I’ll enjoy the pace, admire Ono’s fantasy creation, and look forward to meeting a more likable Yoko.

What did you recently finish reading?
I finished several books recently, the last of which was Starters by Lissa Price. If only: I’d like to officially review this book, but I had to return it today.

Kami Garcia claims, “Fans of The Hunger Games will love it.” Connect this quote to the summary and you have the package that convinced me to read Starters, but why will THG fans love it? I don’t know; ask Garcia. The only similarity Starters and The Hunger Games have in common is that a) Price’s book is a bit dystopian and b) there is a love triangle (possibly a square, but we’ll see how it works out in book two).

Well, I read Starters, and despite that fact that I am a THG fan, I can’t say I love Price’s book. However! I don’t dislike it either, as I sit somewhere in between at three stars. Callie is a decent character: strong, smart, and sacrificing. She’s a survivor but prioritizes her younger brother above all else. When he falls ill with a bleak outlook of recovery, she opts to sign a contract with Prime Destinations: a place where Starters (teens) “rent” their bodies to Enders (elderly) and are given enough cash to pack multiple wallets for their services. Everything looks like it’s smooth sailing for Callie until her third and final rental — the chip that allows the Ender to take over Callie’s body becomes defective. What starts as a desperate means to get by quickly becomes a threat that endangers Callie’s survival. I like the presentation of the storyline and its characters, as well as its quick pace, but I didn’t find it easy to feel attached to Callie or anyone else. In fact, I feel no attachment; only slight interest.

Other books I finished (a few of which I will try to review): Lips Touch: Three Times | The Lover’s Dictionary | The Walking Dead Vol. 3 | Twilight: The Graphic Novel | Stitches | How To Train Your Dragon

What do you think you’ll read next?
I order my next reads by Which book is due that I can’t renew? Moira Young’s Blood Red Road is due next week, although I already gave this a few tries, and I’m not sure I can bear Saba’s speech. Listening to an accent — pleasant or unpleasant — is one thing, but having it inside my head is something else. It’s time for shame: I wouldn’t mind if it were an English accent or fancy Southern drawl, but Saba’s skewed grammar trips my tongue. I may enjoy the story if only I can work past the first-person narrative. How do people read through it?

 

So: if another attempt at Blood Red Road fails and I toss it in a drop box, never to see it again, I am very eager to start Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta.

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WWW Wednesdays #2

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Anyone can participate — just answer the questions!

What are you currently reading?
I started Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood last night and expect to finish it soon. As a ‘graphic memoir,’ Satrapi recounts her growing up in Iran during the Islamic revolution — a poignant story glossed in the lightness of humor and a child’s perspective, yet balanced and emotionally compelling.

To add, I’m also busy reading Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett. I hope to finish it tonight and kindly chuck it inside the library drop box on campus — the book is well overdue! But Mort is patiently waiting for me to open up its cover, and I hate returning unfinished library books. By comparison, I find that Equal Rites feels more enjoyable than the first two Discworld novels, and I’m loving the character set.

Lastly: Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. This book sat and sat (and sat) on my shelf for so long that I can only tell you it’s been (maybe five) years. I’m not sure where I picked it up from — Where did I buy it? Was it a gift? — and the cover displayed on my blog is not the edition I own. My copy, published in 1996, seems to enjoy hiding its face. It’s too early in the story to formulate a proper opinion, but the text is more readable than I thought it would be.

(I have an ugly bias against some classics. I assume they hold dry, stuffy text, and then I feel delighted to learn there’s a rich story worthy of consuming.)

What did you recently finish reading?
The last book I finished was Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks. Quality artwork is, of course, a plus, but I enjoyed the believability above all. Maggie’s relationship with her family (brothers, dad, and the mom who bailed) feels realistic without coming across as sentimental or exaggerating ‘typical’ family roles. First-day jitters and high school cliques brought back memories of my own, but the paranormal aspect struck me as out-of-place. Is the ghost’s presence necessary? Because the widow seemed more like a loose end that could have been easily snipped. I’m reminded of Anya’s Ghost, although Brosgol made Emily’s character an essential, very grounded part of the plot.

Other books I finished:

  • The Alchemyst by Michael Scott. Oh, I don’t think this one truly counts as ‘finished’ since I skimmed through the last 150 pages. All libraries throughout the county shelf Scott’s Flamel series as “TEEN,” but this reads more like poor children’s fantasy. I wanted to like the story and I wanted to love  the characters (and hate — there’s always some character to hate!), but I couldn’t look past Scott’s writing style (which I simply hate). While I love fantasy, I spend the majority of my reading time plunged into YA ‘realistic’ fiction (like How to Say Goodbye in Robot) or dystopian… as of late, anyway. Still, I expect to see fluid writing, details adorning the story (but not superfluous), and developed ideas. Michael Scott’s creation of Josh and Sophie — the new world they discover — felt marred by poor writing and overall lackluster. Last Wednesday I indicated that I would carry on with the rest of the series, but I’m not sure I will.
  • The Sound of Colors by Jimmy Liao shows one reason I still enjoy children’s picture books. Compared to others, like The Seeing Stick and Lucy Dove, I don’t find the artwork particularly impressive but it’s nonetheless engaging and fun. At the heart, though, is a story: a young woman, blind, begins her journey home at the subway where her mind also wanders (and wonders). A tight combination of fragility and wistfulness come together and pack a soft but impressive punch.

    “I push my way onto a train full of people. Do they have someone waiting for them at the other end?”
    — Jimmy Liao

  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan is wordless graphic novel I suggest everyone of all ages read. I checked this out from the library, but it quickly earned a spot on my favorites list and I now consider it a must-own. In his beautifully crafted story of an immigrant, Tan’s work took my breath and captured my imagination. I am a puddle of mush, entirely enchanted and absorbed by The Arrival‘s cinematic quality — what a blast of freshness and artistry.

What do you think you’ll read next?
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. It’s about time, too, and no library due dates will get in my way this time. Nothing will get in my way. I will start it this week, I will read it, and I will enjoy it.

Enough said (for now).

WWW Wednesdays #1

Hey there, everyone. I decided to join in on the weekly book meme fun, and today is WWW Wednesdays! WWW Wednesdays is a weekly book meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Anyone can participate — just answer the questions!

What are you currently reading?
At last: I am finally acquainting each page of Michael Scott’s The Alchemyst. Only a 103 pages are read, but it’s light reading, and yet… No matter how quickly I plow through The Alchemyst, I find that I can easily put it down and not feel a pull to pick it back up. Curiosity about its end is sadly absent and I’m unattached to all characters.

Scott’s writing style and I are butting heads at every paragraph, which disappoints me. My expectations were possibly high, having just read Bardugo’s novel (stronger writing) and being a massive Harry Potter fan (Childhood nostalgia! Excitement! Eeee! Also: stronger writing and more developed). I hoped to enter a world of fantasy prowess created by imaginative writing. It’s fair to say that Scott’s writing presents imaginative ideas, but I find that presentation weak. Regardless, I will finish Scott’s book and continue with the rest of the series.

What did you recently finish reading?
I finished Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo yesterday and zipped through it in three days! I was concerned that the hype surrounding Bardugo’s debut novel would allow my expectations to rise too high and set me up to feel let down. I’m pleased to say that nothing of the sort happened. I enjoyed every minute I read this book, and once I started I didn’t want to stop.

I like to think I find a great book when I can’t walk away from the story. I become so engrossed in the plot, or attached to the characters, that turning pages is both an exhilarating and bitter event. Each time I meet a new page means the end grows nearer. This can be any book, of course. For some people, a book like this is the often made-fun-of Twilight, or maybe a classic like Frankenstein. As long as that book somehow connects to you, that’s all that matters.

There are people who feel upset by Bardugo’s lack of Russian research, and others dislike Alina’s character or the writing — all understandable reasons. I, faintly knowledgeable on Russian language and culture, didn’t take notice, and I found little defects in the writing. I tried pacing Shadow & Bone to last at least a week, but temptation got the best of me and I caved: late nights and neglected responsibilities followed. Yes, it’s that addicting. I’m even tempted to re-read the book again… and again. By the end of today I hope to have a review written — watch out for it!

What do you think you’ll read next?
In my last post, The Picture of Dorian Gray was the book listed as my next read after Shadow & Bone. Instead, I’m reading The Alchemyst and naming Terry Pratchett’s Equal Rites as the follow-up. The disruption library due dates cause…