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?

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Top Ten Tuesday #11

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Click here to read more and join!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Click here to read more and join!

This Top Ten Tuesday prompt is a fun one, I think: favorite covers of books I’ve read*, also known as covergasms. It’s preferable if a story proves as wondrous as its cover art, but even if I loathe a book, you can find me drooling over its eye-candy front. Here are a mere ten books (with extra notable mentions) whose fancy covers caught my eye:

Can a person ever go wrong when it comes to a Barnes & Noble cover? I love their paperbacks, even. My Grimms’ Fairy Tales copy is part of B&N’s leatherbound collection, gifted by an old friend, and I’ve never stopped adoring the cover. My one complaint is that the page edges are frosted in a sparkling gold, which–as I learned the sad way–easily brushes off.

The cover to Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things, although without golden pages, reminds me of a few B&N hardbacks: it’s simple but elegant-looking. Seraphina is all-around love, however, as I equally adore Hartman’s writing as I do the cover. The sepia provides a medieval appearance with a flavor of fantastic (dragons!). It does have a few rusty smudges, which is part of the artwork — though I have a terrible urge to wipe them off!

Mr. Fox

4. Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

I read the edition on the left-hand side, although I fancy both covers. The cover on the right is very Old Hollywood-esque, by my favorite, however, is from the copy I read. I remember spotting it in the library and deciding to grab it on whim after reading the jacket blurb. Although Oyeyemi presents a rather confusing storyline, I enjoyed each tale, which I think the cover represents well.

books 5 - 6 TTT

5. Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos
6. How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

These two books are triple-threats: simple cover designs that scream awesome, quirky titles, and great writing. While I’m attracted to the covers to both of these books, it’s the titles that I gravitated toward. The titles are entirely their own, possessing a unique quality shared by the stories that are bound between the covers. I don’t have the words for the cover of How to Say Goodbye in Robot other than “covergasmic love” and “I’m sure more boys would read this if the cover wasn’t pink!” Rosko’s cover, on the other hand, feels fresh. Considering that I find the story quite different from others like it, I think the cover suits the story.

The Rabbits

7. The Rabbits by John Marsden & Shaun Tan

I am a huge fan of Shaun Tan’s art in general, but The Rabbits–among a couple of other Shaun Tan books–is what I consider one of his best works. As art and text combine to communicate a powerful message, The Rabbits tells an allegoric tale about colonization. The cover does a wonderful job in revealing the story’s tense atmosphere, and–of course–it’s another showcase of Shaun Tan’s genius.

Jelly Roll

8. Jelly Roll: A Blues by Kevin Young

Jelly Roll: A Blues has remained near the top of my “books with awesome covers” list since I first discovered it in 2011. The faded wash and phonograph offer a subtle quiet, but there is also a jaunty, fun-hearted feeling that jumps at the reader. It’s a modernized old soul, very “blues-y,” equipped with inventive language that knows how to lament and praise. With a complementary color scheme to boot, I don’t think you can ask for a better cover.

books 9 - 10 TTT

9. The End of the Alphabet by C.S. Richardson
10. The Merchant & the Alchemist’s Gate by Ted Chiang

The End of the Alphabet and The Merchant & the Alchemist’s Gate both have a Saharan or Middle Eastern feel to their covers, which initially attracted me. Covers that flaunt their fancy designs without superfluous detail will always win my adoration, but I appreciate artwork that feels more simple yet has a mighty voice. The End of the Alphabet is eye-pleasing, although the story didn’t take me where I had hoped it would based on the cover. Chiang’s novella, however, brought me everywhere I’d hoped and then some — something that I feel the cover does well in preparing prospective readers for.

>>Notable Mentions:

TTT nb 1

TTT nb 2

*My list would be endless if I could include books sitting on my TBR list!

What are some of your favorite book covers? Comment below or link me to your TTT post — I’d love to know!

Top Ten Tuesday #9

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Click here to read more and join!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Click here to read more and join!

Guess what this week’s Top Ten Tuesday’s prompt is all about? My favorite thing: book recommendations! And here are ten I suggest the most:

Between Shades of Gray How to Say Goodbye in Robot SeraphinaIt's Kind of a  Funny Story Looking for Alaska The Arrival The Book Thief 2 The Perks of Being a Wallflower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Sadly, I’m always too wrapped up in other books to read Ruta Sepetys’ debut novel a second time. At some point, which I hope is this year, I would love to re-read and even review it. Ruta is one talented writer who, despite the stark atmosphere of this novel, manages to sprout hope between the pages. With writing so swift and striking, it’s no wonder that I recommend this book so often. It’s not that Between Shades of Gray is only well-written and tactful–and with a great protagonist to top it off–but the novel sheds light on a piece of history that’s been hidden in the shadows. Whether you have or have not read this book, I also highly recommend that anyone watch the ‘promotional trailer’ of sorts here.

2. How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
Another book I recommend often is Natalie Standiford’s How To Say Goodbye in Robot. As far as young adult contemporary/realistic fiction goes, I have yet to encounter any similar book and I don’t think I ever will. Standiford’s novel stands alone, which–regardless of its flaws–is great. I discuss a little of the book in this post, but I of course prefer that you check out the book instead — and read it!

3. Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman
I was crazy about Seraphina before it was published, and now I’m all sorts of crazy amplified by ten just waiting on the sequel. Although I’ve been successful in persuading others to read Hartman’s glamorousandkick-ass novel, I don’t think any amount of converts will please me because I just need to talk about this book ALL THE TIME. Hands down, I adore Seraphina as a character — she is an intensely smart, observant individual who is not simply relatable, but beautiful inside and out. My review can be read here, but I also mention Seraphina in this post as well.

4. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
First, I desperately plead, do not judge this book by its movie. The two are quite different in my opinion, and in all places where the movie flounders the book prevails. Out of many young adult novels I’ve read that deal with mental health, I feel that Vizzini nails it. Craig embodies the emotions of those who live with and have experienced depression, and what I admire most of all is how Vizzini works in humor. Yes: this is a novel about depression that is not depressing. Who’d have thought? Instead, the book is an uplifting story as it follows a boy’s one-week stay in a mental hospital after choosing not to kill himself.

5. Looking for Alaska by John Green
I may never love another John Green novel as much as I love Looking for Alaska, because I’m still waiting for its equal. This book, alongside one other, is what hooked me into exploring young adult literature. Miles “Pudge” Halter is a rather sentimental guy, quite thoughtful, and he undergoes a memorable coming-of-age experience. Off at boarding school, he finds his place among life-long friends and in a sad turn of events, loses one. This novel is sincere but balanced well by John Green’s trademark wit, and I have the feeling that Looking for Alaska will have a special place on my shelf for years to come.

6. The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Shaun Tan’s work in The Arrival stunned me speechless. However wordless (that goes for the book and myself), Tan shows the wonder in his artistic ability through cinematic-like images. The story follows a man as he journeys away from his homeland only to arrive in a foreign world, filled with odd devices and customs, and even odder creatures. It’s an old tale to tell: the story of an immigrant, and what sets The Arrival apart is how Shaun Tan breathes life into it with impressive images. A lot of work–you might not think–went into creating this book, which you can read about (and view pages from the book!) by clicking here.

7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Maybe some day I will get the knots out of my tongue to properly review this page-turner. Until then, I will slap it across the head of anyone willing to listen. You might think a smack from a 550-page book would hurt, but that is nothing in comparison to what its words and characters do to your heart. Death, as a narrator, does a spectacular job — even when he spoils the ending way ahead of time — because he’s much more human than he likes to think, and I swear there’s a heart and soul trapped in the pages.

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This is one of those book that, if I catch you insulting it, I will smack you silly across the face. …In my head. I won’t really abuse your face til it’s red and raw, but I’m rather attached –unfortunately?–and I will judge. There are people who easily dismiss Chbosky’s book because of its lasting popularity, and I’m happy to say that I picked this up on whim. I had no previous knowledge of this book, but a friend listed it as one of her favorite reads. Trusting her taste, I gave it a go as well and fell in love.

There Are No Children Here A Monster Calls

9. There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz
There Are No Children Here was required reading for my sociology class, and reading it had me deeply interested in the lives of these two boys. Far from simply informative, it’s heart-wrenching and mind-opening — even more so because it isn’t fiction. This is the true story, as told by Alex Kotlowitz, of Lafeyette and Pharoah growing up in “the other America.”

10. A Monster Calls written by Patrick Ness, inspired by Siobhan Dowd, and illustrated by Jim Kay
I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s honest and keenly written with certain awareness. From the moment I started reading I could see no happy ending, which–to be honest–was not what I’d expected. Unaware of the story, I believed a spooky tale lie ready for reading, and how completely wrong I was. It is unusual for me to like a book, and more to love a book, when initial expectations are struck down, and it’s not often that literature brings real tears dripping down my face.

Which books do you recommend most often?

Recommend a… (book by a debut author)

Recommend A… is a weekly meme run by Chick Loves Lit. Click here to check out future prompts and take part!

Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Published June 5th, 2012 | Henry Holt and Co.
Fantasy

Summary from GoodReads:

Alina Starkov doesn’t expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, the one thing she could rely on was her best friend and fellow refugee, Mal. And lately not even that seems certain. Drafted into the army of their war-torn homeland, they’re sent on a dangerous mission into the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh.

When their convoy is attacked, all seems lost until Alina reveals a dormant power that not even she knew existed. Ripped from everything she knows, she is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. He believes she is the answer the people have been waiting for: the one person with the power to destroy the Fold.

Swept up in a world of luxury and illusion, envied as the Darkling’s favorite, Alina struggles to fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But as the threat to the kingdom mounts, Alina uncovers a secret that sets her on a collision course with the most powerful forces in the kingdom. Now only her past can save her . . . and only she can save the future.

I admit that I would like to give Shadow & Bone a second read, because I’m almost — almost! — embarrassed to say that I love the Darkling. Go ahead: you are free to make fun, but I take comfort in knowing that I am not alone. Bardugo does well in getting readers to like the villain, and while I would hate for this news to spoil anyone, I don’t believe it’s difficult to pick up on the Darking’s intentions. I spent time thinking about his character — his future role, how it would clash with Mal’s position, and not to forget how the Grisha age is dying. Where does that leave him? It leaves him as the antagonist, and dammit, I like him. So maybe I was infatuated (ahem), but new perspectives come with second readings.

Regardless, Shadow & Bone took me on a light fantasy adventure, and I would readily read it a second time.  Bardugo sucked me into Alina’s story quickly and with ease, and I maintained interest until the last page. This is a book I didn’t want to end, although it is not difficult to get so absorbed into the text that, in consequence, I didn’t realize the speed at which I stormed through it.

If Shadow & Bone has at all roused your interest, you can read an extended preview of the book: Chapters 1 – 5. In relation to Bardugo’s Grisha world creation, The Witch of Duva: A Ravkan Folk Tale is something else to read as well.

Find my review here, and check out the book trailer below!

Now, one book recommendation is to be expected, but I could not resist the temptation to suggest a second book:

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Published July 10th, 2012 | Random House Books for Young Readers
Fantasy

Summary from GoodReads:

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina’s tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they’ve turned the final page.

In 2002, Rachel Hartman did publish a comic book, Amy Unbounded — which takes place in the same universe as Seraphina — but the debut fantasy is the author’s first novel. What can I say about Seraphina that I haven’t said already? Even before the book’s release, pure excitement radiated off me in frightful blasts, and it has only worsened now that I have read it. Much to the dismay, perhaps, of everyone around me — and to my wonderful followers — I enjoy praising this book (a lot). In contrast to Bardugo’s novel, Seraphina is undoubtedly much more high fantasy. (It is also, I would like add, more developed in world-building aspects than Shadow & Bone.)

Rarely do I ever stray into high fantasy, as I prefer grounding myself in worlds similar to my own. Throw too many strange creatures and made-up languages with odd pronunciations my way, and my brain says it is time to step away. The likes of J.K. Rowling and C.S. Lewis were as deep as I dared to venture into the fantasy genre for years, and even then: our primary world still exists. As a result of reading Seraphina, I am more friendly with this genre. Hartman crafted an entire world I think readers will enjoy exploring, and I am quite fond of the Vulcan-like dragons.

My review can be read here. I warn, however, that Hartman’s pace is indeed steady and slow. Seraphina takes some time to read, which appears to be one of the chief complaints among reviewers.

These are my recommendations this week! If you have read either book, I would love to hear your thoughts.
x

Book Review: Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

My rating: ★★★★★

I am sensationally drunk on admiration. Some books exist in this world that — once I read them — leave me wishing a simple “in awe” would suffice as a complete review. For all the years I’ve lived: where, oh, where has Rachel Hartman been? I sat for days staring at the computer as my review didn’t write itself, like my brain was sucked dry of words. An unintelligible but love-struck sigh came out instead, and I began to wonder how I’d get my vocabulary back.

Impressionable for its descriptive world and striking characters, Hartman gives one of the most refreshing stories I’ve had the pleasure to read. Divided between voice, structure, and artistry, clever allure runs equally. Out of all the reading I do, high fantasy is not a genre I typically aim to read often (let alone get excited for). Like a bug, I caught the pre-release hype and couldn’t help but force this book onto other people’s to-read lists.

(This consisted of discrete advertisements, such as inserting a Seraphina-related link in an e-mail about Why My Day Sucks, or quick mentions in between sentences concerning weekend plans. Various tactics of peer pressure, slipping ear buds on while someone innocently slept — audio repeating a particular chant — and propaganda (can lead to victories). No one was safe. I was a spam-bot and do not apologize.)

Then, once the book was released and I started reading, my tongue threatened fireballs of rage to anyone who dare disagree that Seraphina is enjoyable. My goodness, God forbid people think different thoughts and have different tastes than me, because that’s wrong.

I remember being born.

In fact, I remember a time before that. There was no light, but there was music; joints creaking, blood rushing, the heart’s staccato lullaby, a rich symphony of indigestion. Sound enfolded me, and I was safe.

Then my world split open, and I was thrust into a cold and silent brightness. I tried to fill the emptiness with my screams, but the space was too vast. I raged, but there was no going back.

Thus begins Seraphina Dombegh’s venture into life. Banned from the outside world by an overprotective father, the young protagonist grows into an exceptionally smart and curious individual. Keen hearing and inborn talent, one out of many rules she is expected to obey becomes the source of stewing irritation: she is forbidden to play music. “Half lawyer,” Seraphina “always noticed the loopholes.” Realizing that no one forbade self-instruction, lessons began. Determined, Seraphina intended to shame her father into allowing music lessons by an “impromptu performance” — a thought and hope that resulted in a broken flute and a terrified, upset Mr. Dombegh.

Soon after, truth behind her father’s fear and unwavering vigilance surfaces as her life undergoes an irreversible change. In that moment, Seraphina realized how different she truly is and the lengths she must go to keep it secret. Disgusted by what she is and forced to conceal it, Seraphina locks in a constant struggle between separating herself from others but feeling desperate to withdraw from loneliness. Highly intelligent and often bold, she doesn’t crouch in fear. She rises to the occasion and willfully takes courageous first steps when others hesitate.

Finally free, however, to develop her knack for creating musical beauty, Seraphina trains under the saarantras Orma. (Saarantras: a dragon in human form.) As her ability blooms, a reputation steadily builds, and anonymity is no longer an option once she gains entry into castle walls. Assistant to Viridius, the court composure, and tutor to crowned Princess Glisselda, word of the greatly talented Seraphina spreads.

Due to her younger years of home-bound isolation and instinctual reminder of self-protection, this musical prodigy presents herself as socially aloof. Regardless, her oddities and status work hard for the very attention she wishes to shy away from. Interests rouse, and with it brings Prince Lucian Kiggs: friend or foe?

Sometimes the truth has difficulty breaching the city walls of our beliefs. A lie, dressed in the correct livery, passes through more easily.

Dragons are not majestic, beautiful creatures that instill fear by the sheer power they possess. Instead, dragons are animals of nonchalant, calculating, and cunning nature, detested by many humans. Likewise, humans are also thought as loathsome: stubborn to die, humans multiply and scatter and ruin a dragon’s hunting ground. Yet emotions (messy as they are and foreign to the indifferent dragons) and the human aptitude for art make people interesting. Hence, these qualities lean in favor of establishing an agreement between the species.

After forty years of peace among dragon and humankind, the body of Prince Rufus is discovered and seemingly decapitated by a rogue dragon. As Treaty Eve draws near, tensions rise and jeopardize the union upheld by Comonot’s Treaty. Heading the murder investigation is Prince Lucian, who — intrigued by her knowledge — wraps Seraphina inside the mystery as a fellow partner-of-justice. Together, as they work to solve the case, the two discover that Prince Rufus’s death is only the first tipped domino in a plot designed to capsize the peace.

But the question remains: as reasons behind her knowledge on dragons become strapped under scrutiny, how far can Seraphina’s lies stretch without becoming too entangled? Should the secret she bears see light, it could mean execution and endangering her family.

Seraphina is a richly enchanting debut novel that plants the reader right next to the heroine’s side. Hartman’s creation proves itself a complex, delicately built world plagued by hostility and discrimination that undermines peace. This book explores what it means to be different in an intolerant environment, a place predisposed to greet with prejudice. Delving beyond self-acceptance, Hartman touches on deserving respect not for what you are, but because you are sentient. Seraphina questions the inner make-up, the actions and beliefs that define someone, and turning away from societal bias to accept the self.

The world inside myself is vaster and richer than this paltry plane, peopled with mere galaxies and gods.

For those who have yet to discover the prequel: read away! At 19 pages, you can read The Audition quickly — but! The Audition is less of a prequel to the series. Rather, it is a story that narrates how Seraphina gains entrance into the palace by becoming Glisselda’s music tutor. For anyone who read Seraphina and fell in love with Hartman’s craft and characters, additional appreciation for the quirks of Orma, Glisselda, and Viridius will be felt. I recommend reading the prequel after Seraphina for this reason, but The Audition can still be read, understood, and enjoyed by people who have not read book one.

Meanwhile, I wait on seconds to tick by, months to pass, and the new year to swing full-force like a bulldozer coming to shatter 2012. Come at me, Dracomachia, because my bookmark is ready.

Seraphina is out!

Hello on a Tuesday (July 10th, and so many book releases today!) — I hope everyone’s week is going well.

I hear a mighty fine book strutting around, and it just got its glamor shelved for reading. Unless you live in the future or were one of those lucky readers who grabbed an early copy, Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina is officially out. In case you somehow missed the pre-release hype and you’re wondering What is a Seraphina? then check out the book trailer:

Just when you thought there was nothing new to say about dragons, it turns out there is, and plenty! Rachel Hartman’s rich invention never fails to impress — and to convince. It’s smart and funny and original, and has characters I will follow to the ends of the earth.
Ellen Kushner

You can also watch Rachel Hartman read a one-minute excerpt or read part of it here (Hartman’s out-loud reading can do with a little more pause, I think).

I’ve been told Seraphina has the power to spike your day with a little more cheer, so: if your week has been more nasty, rotten, and sleep-depriving than my upstairs neighbor, I can’t say I’ve ever seen a good book inflate a bad mood.

Cheers and happy reading!
x

July book releases (and literary lust)

“When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.”
— Desiderius Erasmus

Desiderius and I know how to prioritize. Do you?

I get nerdgasms just thinking about reading, and it’s true. The giddiness and anticipation form an overwhelming emotional growth–a blood-rush, a feel-good high. The same phrase is also displayed on my GoodReads profile, plastered across the screen for all eyes to peer at in book-nerd pride.

I spend a good chunk of free time perusing books and tossing their titles into my ever-growing to-read pile. To think about holding any of these books, let alone read them, jump-starts my pulse from a resting rate of 65 to 150. Booksbooksbooks. I admit it: I’m obsessed, sometimes weird, annoyed with life, and a genuine book nerd. Bibliophile, however, is a kinder term.

It happened perhaps a month or two ago: me, gasping in excitement while surveying the book shelves. The Hunger Games attracted my attention, and I thought the lusty glint in my eyes gained the ability to create sound: My oh my oh my what a wonder! (“The Stars and the Trees” by The Lighthouse and the Whaler.) No, it was my phone.

“Mom,” I said. My tone absorbed petulance.

“Minerva,” she grumbled. (Note that no one in my family refers to me by my birth-given name with the exception of my grandmother.)

“Do you think I should by The Hunger Games trilogy?” I didn’t need to ask. I could have bought the books if I really wanted to (and I really wanted to), but asking my mother of all people is my way of setting myself straight. I asked because I know money can be spent on more “important” things, and I know that my mom will scrutinize my life and slap a NO in my face each time.

“No,” said my mom. “Why are you asking me?” (I never did find out why she called me, but I digress.)  This later evolved into an argument concerning my “lack of responsibility” and “poor prioritizing.” I swatted her criticism out the window and reminded her: I would rather buy a book and go hungry than buy myself a meal.

“Well that’s just stupid.” Eyes rolled, my mother huffed, and I read a book.

But I’m always reading a book, and as if I didn’t have a smothering amount already, I have an eye on several upcoming July releases… Continue reading