My Top 5 Most Out of this World Urban Fantasy Young Adult and Middle Grade Books

 

 

In my early days of reading for pleasure regularly, I was mostly relying on one genre. This genre is, and will probably always be, my safe place. It is urban fantasy. For Top 5 Wednesday this week, the topic is to share our top 5 urban fantasy novels. I am very excited to talk about these books.

5. City of Bones by Cassandra clare

I had read some of Clare’s fan fiction in my early college days. She makes me laugh. Many people do this thing where they list every rumor about an author, every damning coincidence, or every mistake they ever made. When it comes to Cassie Clare, there’s a lot of stigma. Her work is somehow belittled because, oh, it has things in common with other work. It deterred me from reading her stuff for a long time.

However, when I did start reading her books, I was inspired and comforted. It still doesn’t sound like anything I’d ever read. It’s funny, because when I was working on my thesis, it became very clear how derivative literature can be. That’s the fun part. Anyway, this book brings me so much joy.

4. Percy Jackson and the Lightning thief by rick riordan

When I read this book, I was early in my graduate school days. I remember getting it from the library, and simply not knowing how awesome it was going to be. This series is often mocked, too, as you’ll notice a common thread within my post. It got so bad with people calling it “childish” and “unoriginal.”

To me, this series created such a fun and humorous series of adventures, cool characters, wonderful relationships. All of these things were established with the backdrop of rich mythology incorporated into the average daily life.

3. The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizi

Another quite rich world presented with a balance between adventure and normalcy. Three siblings go on a quest that is so breathtaking in its richness. I find myself thinking of this series often, particularly how it flows into another trilogy afterwards. With that said, I think the cool feature of this series is how it is accessible to younger readers while not being patronizing to older ones at the same time.

2. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

This novel flirts with magical realism, and it makes me happy. To me, one of the features of urban fantasy involves younger characters going on quests despite their age and stature in society. We have Adam Parrish in these books, a poor boy from an abusive family, and he is given so much power and agency. It really is empowering to readers, I find. Same with Ronan Lynch.

But, even more beautiful is the commentary on strength in its varying forms. Sometimes, you don’t really do much to be powerful. Look at Blue Sargent’s abilities, her lineage, personality. Perfection.

 1. Soulless by gail carriger

Steampunk is hit or miss for me so far. In this story, the main character is witty, with a seemingly normal appearance. Many side characters claim that she is not a conventional beauty due to heritage. And, she is soulless-all powers of the supernatural do not work on her. Romance, intrigue, mystery are all rolled into one delightful candy-like novel.

For Top 5 Wednesday, this week's discussion topic centers around book tropes that were presented
    Today's Top 5 Wednesday is all about science fiction and fantasy authors. More
Happy Valentine's Day, peeps! This week, we will continue with the love theme on our

Top 10 Books I Could Reread Forever

 

 

I’m back with another entry for the epic Top 10 Tuesday meme, which is now run by Artsy Reader Girl. Every week, we get a topic for us to list books we find suit the prompt (on a Tuesday). Today, I am bringing it back to the feel-good books that I could reread forever.

10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This the only Austen I have read. I could use a reread right now, honestly, because I have read it over ten years ago. Jane and Elizabeth have such a wonderful bond. They are sisterhood and friendship goals. Having a young feminist figure like Elizabeth in this book warms my heart. She is critical of her society while maintaining a timeless charm. Her story with Mr. Darcy is forever dear to me, because it is ultimately a commentary on social interactions and the misgivings of first impressions.

9. The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald

Jolien hates this book, but, to me, it speaks to my longing for the past. It reminds me of my tendencies to romanticize people, collapsing them into stereotypes as I love the idea of them rather than their actual personalities. Gatsby, with his longing to fulfill the American Dream, offered a flaw in a system I once thought was perfect. The nouveau-riche plight for acceptance among the aristocratic class hit home for me. Plus, how can I ever not love Nick and Daisy. My beautiful Daisy, so frail and bitter. Perfection.

8. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by jenny Han

I remember feeling ashamed for liking the first two books of this series. People said Lara Jean was childish. To me, she appeared to be inexperienced with relationships. That did not make her unappealing. Instead, her journey to finding her place in the world, particularly in the final book, created a lovely narrative not entirely reliant on romance. I like the familial tones in this trilogy. Lara Jean is someone I aspire to become. The baking, the pastel colors, the crafting, all of it is endearing and heartwarming. I could never get sick of rereading her story. She is so dear to me.

7. Vampire Academy by richelle mead

You thought this post was going to be all classics and romantic books, didn’t you? I love this series by Richelle Mead because of the central friendship between Rose Hathaway and Lissa Dragomir. I love their bond’s strength despite their differences in personality, ability, and stature. There are varying kinds of greatness and success in this world. Mead is careful not to generalize features of strength. You can be sensitive and powerful. Or, you can be like Rose and kick literal butt all day.

6. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

I actually love this author’s work in general. From what I have read of Hex Hall, Hawkins seems to have always had humor incorporated into her narratives. She includes interesting characters and places them in a seemingly normal world that is punctuated with notes of the supernatural or paranormal. It’s genius, because her writing is both amusing, engaging, but not exhausting with its fantastical elements. Rebel Belle certainly manifests all these features of Hawkins’ writing.

5. gemina by amie kaufman and jay kristoff

Listen, this series is a ton of fun. The kick-butt main characters and their equally capable love interests, the rather negative artificial intelligence in the series called AIDAN, are memorable and oh so charming. It is hard not to whiz through these books. Gemina in particular was a step up from Illuminae, which was already awesome in and of itself.

4. iron king by julie kagawa

I remember nothing about this series, except that it was a fun time if I don’t think of other people’s perceptions of me. It’s  a story about faeries and changelings. Definitely, it is back on my shelves in time for a reread. I was going to give it away but decided against it.

3. Beautiful creatures by kami garcia and margaret stohl

This series is dark and charming with a nice lore for witches. It has lifetimes and reincarnations, a fantastic love story, and wickedly complex characters. The authors do such a wonderful job including a male protagonist who is unlike the typical men in young adult literature, especially paranormal or urban fantasy stories.

2. Hush, Hush by Becca fitzpatrick

I already repurchased the first two books of this series, because I cannot stop thinking about Patch and Nora. They are so sweet, and they endure such miserable circumstances. Besides, the best friend in this series is awesome. What is her name? Vee or Vi? Something like that. I can’t believe I remember her. It’s been a while. I cannot express just how excited I am to reread this series.

 1. Twilight by stephenie meyer

Another series I am repurchasing. The first two books are on my shelves, ready to be enjoyed. Bella and Edward’s connection coupled with all the odds against them made for one hell of a story. Alice Cullen, Rosalie, Jacob Black, all of them are characters I think of often. I cannot wait to revisit these books this year and in the years to come.

Your turn

Do we share any books in common? What are your favorite books to reread? Are you rereading any of them in certain seasons or moods? Tell me all about it in the comments.

See you there.

xo

Roaring nerd moment

  Top 10 Tuesday is now hosted by the lovely The Artsy Reader Girl. It is
    Top Ten Tuesday is a meme run by the lovely The Broke and
Top Ten Tuesday is here, and that means it's time for another list. This week,

Top 5 Women-Who-Love-Women Books

Happy Valentine’s Day, peeps! This week, we will continue with the love theme on our Top 5 Wednesday. I am going to be listing my top 5 women who love women books that I have read. My big warning here is that a) there may be spoilers ahead.

Let’s go.

5. A Great and Terrible Beauty by libba bray

I read this book ages ago, and so I don’t recall the details or character names, which is good. This means I cannot spoil the story. All I will say is that there’s a queer couple in the story. Unfortunately, it was revealed as a spoiler, but I’d say the author respected the characters and wrote them beautifully still.

4. Dreadnought by april daniels

I just wanted to include my favorite trans girl (so far. I am working on including more diversity in my reads). This book angered me quite a bit, because I connected with the main character on an emotional level. We may be quite differently placed on the LGBT+ spectrum, however, I empathized with her struggles to be taken seriously.*

*I read the first book from the library and did not get to the next one yet.

3. Born wicked by jessica spotswood

I have not read the final book in this trilogy yet, so I remain unaware of what will happen to the queer couple in the story. However, reading about them broke my heart. Yet, I remain passionate about them and my hope for their happy ending continues to live on. Furthermore, I enjoy this character’s family acceptance of her feelings towards this person. (Goodness, being spoiler-free is so hard). This is particularly a fresh image to be portrayed within the rather stifling setting.

2. The Upside of Unrequited by becky albertali

There are two queer couples in this story, and they are both wlw. I love the familial love in the main character’s life. It warms my heart to see happy families depicted in novels, particularly novels featuring queen characters.

And finally…

 1. Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Featuring queer Latina girls attracted to the one and only Bay Bryar, this book is magic. McLemore is one of my absolute favorites. She writes with sensitivity and doting love toward her characters, her imagery, her themes, her plot. She honors her characters by offering a complex presentation of their lives. She writes so beautifully. This novel, being her latest, is my favorite one yet.

 

For Top 5 Wednesday, this week's discussion topic centers around book tropes that were presented
    Today's Top 5 Wednesday is all about science fiction and fantasy authors. More
    In my early days of reading for pleasure regularly, I was mostly relying

Top 10 Love-Related Quotes

 

Top 10 Tuesday is now hosted by the lovely The Artsy Reader Girl. It is essentially a weekly topic meant to spark discussion, lists, and excited chats about books. This week is a freebie, but I decided to copy our host. A list of love-related quotes is in order. Let’s go.

10. p.s. i still love you by jenny han–“So much of love is chance. There’s something scary and wonderful about that.”

While I have never fallen in love romantically, I do like this idea of chance in any relationship. I have always been far too anxious to keep any relationship around for long. This quote reminds me of the very scary nature of friendship so much, it validates my pain. To me, I am still kind of in awe of those who have been friends for years, decades, lifetimes. It’s mind-blowing to me. I wish I could have something like that, with friends, that I may rise above the fear and take a chance on people.

9. I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson-“Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.”

When I read this book, I was really lonely. But, I kept feeling this tug from the universe telling me that you don’t have to let your past relationships go. I conflate confronting my past with escaping it too often, even back then. Funnily enough, this story is about two siblings who are not speaking to each other, which is something rather common in my life, because they come to terms with their differences somehow. Here’s hoping I can make my own peace with my inner demons.

8. the dream thieves by maggie stiefvater–“‘I wish you could be kissed, Jane,’ he said. ‘Because I would beg just one off you. Under all this.’ He flailed an arm toward the stars.”

Their love is so pure and sweet. It was a privilege to read their story for four books. Seriously.

Speaking of which…

7. The Raven king by maggie stiefvater-“His feelings for Adam were an oil spill; he’d let them overflow and now there wasn’t a damn place in the ocean that wouldn’t catch fire if he dropped a match.”

Come on. Ronan Lynch, who feels everything so intensely, is a wonder to behold. He scared me at first, because I could kind of identify with him. I yearned to be like him in my past. To see him so vulnerable humanized him, made him a small babe that I wanted to protect.

6.City of Glass by Cassandra Clare-““Not everything is about you,” Clary said furiously.”Possibly,” Jace said, “but you do have to admit that the majority of things are.”’

Listen, Jace just sounds like how I make fun of myself. I love Cassie Clare’s writing. She can do no wrong in my world.

5. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell-“I don’t trust anybody. Not anybody. And the more that I care about someone, the more sure I am they’re going to get tired of me and take off.”

The awkward moment when a fictional character says what is always unspoken for me.

4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green-“Maybe ‘okay’ will be our ‘always.'”

Sometimes, when people know what you mean, it doesn’t really matter how you phrase things. This is a thought that paralyzes me, because I am often hung up on the semantics. I feel things intensely, and I don’t often find the right words or actions to express my feelings and thoughts. I read this book way back in 2012, and I still think about it and about this moment.

3. more happy than not by adam silvera-“The boy with no direction taught me something unforgettable: happiness comes again if you let it.”

Mental illness tells me many things. There are really tough nights, and I think of this book on those nights especially. It’s easily a favorite of mine.

This leads me to:

2. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo-“I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”

My tough fighters, Inej and Kaz, are so dear to me. And, as someone who has endured sexual abuse, I identified with Inej and Nina both. Maybe I’ll write about it later. But this post is already long. I like that Kaz and Inej don’t touch. It comforts me a lot.

 1. Six of crows by leigh bardugo-“Jesper knocked his head against the hull and cast his eyes heavenward. “Fine. But if Pekka Rollins kills us all, I’m going to get Wylan’s ghost to teach my ghost how to play the flute just so that I can annoy the hell out of your ghost.”
Brekker’s lips quirked. “I’ll just hire Matthias’ ghost to kick your ghost’s ass.”
“My ghost won’t associate with your ghost,” Matthias said primly, and then wondered if the sea air was rotting his brain.”

Because to me, all the interactions between the Dregs is a breathless affectionate whisper. You got to listen to them bickering and see who they become throughout these two books. They are so wonderful, it really makes my heart beat a little faster. Just look at Matthias warming up to them. So good.

    I'm back with another entry for the epic Top 10 Tuesday meme, which
    Top Ten Tuesday is a meme run by the lovely The Broke and
Top Ten Tuesday is here, and that means it's time for another list. This week,

BR: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

 

 

I have been very lucky with books lately, so excuse the barrage of reviews on the blog. Exciting to have more stories to discuss, to be honest. Today, I am going to be talking about Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake.

Premise

A matriarchy exists, where a queen gives birth to triplets. These three girls are then separated and tasked with killing each other. The survivor becomes queen.

Characters

Okay. Let me try to get this right. Mirabella is an elemental queen, living in a convent-type of place. Then, there is Arsinoe. She is a naturalist, who can control animals and plants. Finally, Katharine is our poisoner queen, who can consume high levels of poison.

Along the way, there are also characters who support each one of the queens.

Thoughts

(Run. Spoilers ahead)

Overall, I liked this book quite a bit. It is slow moving, mainly because there is so much political intrigue going on. Blake introduces each royal queen. In doing so, she also has to include side characters who belong in each individual court.

Now, the big thing in this story is about sisterhood. I know it doesn’t sound like it from the premise, but Mirabella, the most powerful of them, has dreams of the sisters changing tradition. She reaches out to Arsinoe (accidentally or on purpose. Debatable semantics here).

The other twist you don’t quite see coming is how much this novel truly reflects on young adult literature. In essence, the tale revolves around the theme of self discovery which manifests itself in the idea of supernatural powers.  Quite impressively, the author is dealing with characters who have not found their strength just yet, and they are tasked with an epic battle (to the death!).

In addition, this struggle to find power also appears in the queens’ attempts to voice their own opinions within their courts. Fear plays a huge part in their narratives, because they are not as strong as their courts try to convey to the other courts. It’s quite a Slytherin-y thing and it makes me so happy.

However, the story also has kind of a Skrillex kind of vibe. As in, the bass doesn’t quite drop in a dramatic way. Instead, it is a lot of build up and no intense conclusion. The next book will hopefully include an actual battle.

The beauty of the book’s ending lies in the emotional weight it carries. It truly feels like a sucker punch when the sisters do meet each other and have to announce their powers. The amount of deceit and fear are tangible yet completely overwhelming. Readers spend so much time in these girls’ heads that they become fully invested in their survival. I don’t know if I can handle any of them dying.

Hence why the book ends on such a cliffhanger.

“I want revenge.”

what about you?

Have you read this book or anything like it? Who are your favorite regal figures in fiction? And, to what extent do you feel like their ascent into the throne was admirable? Also: who do you think will win the battle in the next book?

See you in the comments.
Okay.
Dinasoaur out!

Some of you may know that I lived in Egypt in the 90s. I was
The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.
        **Before I continue, I have to credit the following brilliant photographers:

BR: Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood Book Review

 

Warning: Here be spoilers. If you are interested in reading this book, and you dislike spoilers, RUN. As Star Crossed by Jessica Spotswood is the middle of a trilogy, I cannot help but spoil the first book at least.

premise

The Cahill sisters, living in an oppressive regime of patriarchy, are forced to keep their magic secret. Older sister Cate is torn between her choice to announce her intention (a tradition within their society). Should she marry and have children? In this case, who does she marry? Does she marry for love or for status? Or, should she join the Sisterhood, a convent for women?

spoilers start now. run.

conflict

Ultimately, this is the middle of a trilogy. Naturally, there is a lot of tension between the characters. In particular, the crux of this book lies in the conflicts among the Cahill sisters, the convent sisters, and within the society as a whole.

It’s a hard thing to balance as part of this experience, dealing with so much pressure with the characters at every turn. Within each family, there is some sort of fight for power. For instance, the most notable ongoing problem is between Maura and Cate (plus occasionally Tess is thrown in there). Given what happened with Maura’s love life in book 1, it is understandable that things were messy for her. So, in true Slytherin style, Maura is ambitiously trying to be the best witch of her time. This may sound fine, until you hear Cate being called into power by Sister Cora (leader of the sisterhood).

Incidentally, this tension also rises beyond Cate and Maura. They are both mentored by two opposing leaders within the sisterhood. Cora, diplomatic and somewhat hesitant, is the current figure at the helm of the Sisterhood. Inez, aggressive and urgent, is leading Maura to get women up against the men. Cora and Cate don’t connect that much, but when they do interact, it is powerful stuff.

On an even larger scale, there is the obvious tension between the Sisterhood and the Brotherhood. Beyond that, it is just women and men, at odds with the double standards set by the patriarchy. Sachi and her illegitimate sister are prime examples of men unwilling to acknowledge their mistakes while also acting as overbearing figures towards women.

nuance

Being the second book, there are hints that some men don’t believe in the oppression of women. Finn is an example of them. I like that not all women are presented as morally good as opposed to men being evil. Instead, there are all these shades of grey. It is really unclear what will happen in the next book.

The scene with Sachi’s sister (whose name escapes me) and their father was truly heartbreaking and kind of terrifying. I don’t like seeing women running for their lives just for disagreeing. Physical intimidation is something I had encountered a lot within discourse, and I think surely one can communicate without it. Sure, the character is presented as a hypocrite. But, I am really hoping for some nice closure for Sachi’s sister…even if I can’t remember her name. It starts with an R.

 

Some of you may know that I lived in Egypt in the 90s. I was
The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.
        **Before I continue, I have to credit the following brilliant photographers:

Illuminae Files Spotify Playlist Project Entry

Hi. This is my first Spotify Playlist Project entry of 2018! As a series, this collection of songs are tied to the essence of a given book. In this case, I am talking about the first book in the Illuminae Files series. Ready? Here we go.  SPOILERS AHEAD.

“Bart, he is establishing mood!”

(Obscure The Simpsons reference)
The Adventure by Angels and Airwaves

Kind of song that plays while the credits roll, because this is the kind of story that needs to come with an introduction sequences.

“Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles
This song’s sound prickled through the narrative to me. I just felt like it was Kady and Ezra’s song while they were trying to survive while their planet is under attack. In fact, the song continues to be reflected through the story as Kady takes charge of their destiny.

separating

“Gravity” by Embrace sounds like the aftermath of a space war. Also: it reminds me of Ezra quite a bit, as he misses Kady. Obviously, a joke is at hand here, because space, gravity, get it? Get it?

“When I was Your Man” by Bruno Mars. More heartbreak, and I want this song to echo the relationships of the adult characters, too.

computer whiz

Kady surfing and cracking codes reminds me of “Feel Good Inc,” by Gorillaz.

AIDAN

“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen is like the best depiction of what AIDAN’s meltdowns sound like to me. An unraveling of a whole sweater.

fight!!

“Watercolours” by Pendulum is the essence of the fight scenes in Illuminae, particularly when Kady has to fight people on Ezra’s ship. This song can also double up as a manifestation of AIDAN’s breakdown and subsequent attacks toward ships.

aidan and kady

“More than You Know” by Axwel /\Ingrosso embodies this moment when AIDAN is fascinated by Kady. And, in a bizarre way, I was intrigued by these glimpses of AIDAN admiring the continuing persistence of this young person.

ezra and kady: THE END (ROUND 1)

“One Way Ticket” by ONE OK ROCK could easily play in the background of this book’s final scenes.

One final note: mothers

“I Miss You” by blink 182 and “Mama I’m Coming Home” by Ozzy Osbourne are the tunes I would like to end this Spotify Playlist Project entry. Because, you know, moms are kind of central to this book.

 

Given that my review of The 100 season 3 went up a few days ago,
  After finishing Turtles All the Way Down, I immediately began to work on my newest Spotify
  It's been a while since my Spotify Playlist Project entries have rolled on this

Top 5 Wednesday: Five Book Categories I Did Not Get To in 2017

 

 

Welcome to Top 5 Wednesday. In this week’s edition, I will cheat (as usual) and discuss book categories (with examples) rather than only five examples. Here, I will talk about the Five Book Categories I Did Not Get To in 2017.

5. Big book series

Listen, I am still a fetus reader in some ways, because I get genuinely intimidated by big books that aren’t Harry Potter. For instance, I had only read the first book of the Mistborn series. The silly part is that I enjoyed it. However, it remains daunting. Another example is Illuminae, which I only read towards the very end of the year. Name of the Wind also comes to mind.

4. big series, not necessarily big books

The Bone Season series, The Legacy of Kings series, and even shorter series set in the same world by Cinda Williams Chima are examples of this epic fail on my part. Again, I worry that I will get bored of the same world, as if you have to read all the books back to back. (My thought process is very complex, okay…Okay, yes, it is not that complex).

3. slower paced books

I think that, with the right attitude, I can enjoy a lot of books. Yet, I tend to hesitate if the story is kind of slow. For example, all Anna-Marie McLemore books had a certain flowery slow paced story lines. Don’t be fooled. I loved every single book of hers. So, who’s to say that I won’t enjoy Laini Taylor’s writing? (She’s one of the main authors I am intimidated by).  Rae Carson is another author I am genuinely afraid of her pacing because when I read the first book of hers, I struggled so much.

2. complicated fantasy worlds

Again with the Cinda Williams Chima books and the Brandon Sanderson stories. Sometimes, the pacing drags, and the magic system is complicated, with the occasional surprise thing that happens when you are not paying attention.

 1. multiple perspectives

Ahh. (Sorry, I have to scream for a bit, because I get scared of multiple perspectives in novels). What if I can’t tell the voices apart? Furthermore, what if I hate all the perspectives and want a minor character to be the one narrating the stuff in the story? This mainly scares me when it comes to Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (everyone seems to hate Lucia).

 

For Top 5 Wednesday, this week's discussion topic centers around book tropes that were presented
    Today's Top 5 Wednesday is all about science fiction and fantasy authors. More
    In my early days of reading for pleasure regularly, I was mostly relying

BR: The Upside of Unrequited Book Review

 

 

I devoured Becky Albertalli’s second novel over the course of two days. Many thoughts bounding around my head as I write this review at 2 AM. Hope you are ready for some serious fangirl action…and stuff.

premise

Molly Peskin-Susu is an awkward chubby girl who has had twenty-six crushes. All of them were unrequited. As her sister falls in love with her dream girl, she is confronted with her own journey to find herself (not in a cheesy way, I promise). Her sister sets her up with hipster Will. Enter Reid, her coworker, who likes all things Ren Faire and Middle-Earth. And chocolate eggs.

review

If you follow me on Goodreads, you will see that I fangirl over this novel. I loved it even more than Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens’ Agenda. This one had more complexity to it, and more nuance going on in terms of sexuality, body shapes, and relationship with siblings/family. I gave it four stars.

Here’s why.

PS: SPOILERS AHEAD.

siblings conflict

The conflict between Cassie and Molly in this novel parallels some of the tension between Nadine and Karen. While it is not exactly a mirror image of the cause of conflict, the idea is the same. Two siblings lose touch and then they’re unable to connect as much, or even see eye to eye.

In some ways, Cassie is hit with this wave of love while Molly grapples with her own place as a person without a twin. To me, this is the crux of this story truly.

body image

I also like the mirroring of Grandma’s body image issues with Molly’s own feelings towards her appearance. And, as a chubby person myself, I liked that Albertalli handles this generational disconnect in a  sensitive way. To me, I often get criticized for my body image and it felt kind of nice to see this critique as a genuine issue on the person’s part, not my own. It’s hard to divorce this shaming from fat bodies, unfortunately, and it’s quite lovely to see a novel tackle that issue in a tasteful manner.

Her body image plays into her assumptions about her self worth often. I found the whole Will thing to be a compound of two issues. First, I think Molly was unsure of whether she can be with Reid. Two, to an extent, she tries to tap into what Cassie is seeing here. Twins and best friends together? Sounds nice and neat.

You know what I really like? That she didn’t end up with Will. Seriously. Best choice ever.

romance

Overall, I like the romances here. The one between Cassie and Mina could have used some more focus, but I understand that she’s not the center of this story. Reid and Molly’s connection was charming and sweet.

The assumption that someone as nerdy as Reid can’t be a good boyfriend was challenged pretty well. Although I will say that I don’t think that being physical is what makes someone good as a partner. But, hey. I don’t know about relationships all that much. This is all guess work for me.

Okay. bye.

 

Some of you may know that I lived in Egypt in the 90s. I was
The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.
        **Before I continue, I have to credit the following brilliant photographers:

BR: The Ocean at the End of the Lane Book Review

I finished reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane on the last day of 2017. My brain has been struggling to contain the excitement of having read my first Gaiman novel. Seriously. In some ways, The Ocean in the End of the Lane will always be special to me, because of its content. Uh, let me dive into this review, though, because I can gush all day.

premise

An unnamed middle aged man returns to his family home, and recalls the adventure of a summer he spent with childhood friend, Lettie Hempstock.

theme–childhood and imagination

My favorite aspect of this story has to be the magical realism feel to it. Throughout the novel, it is unclear if the story is literal or figurative. This blurring of reality with imagination is very much rooted in childhood (from what I experienced).

But, also, the charming factor in this story has to be the way the characters behave. Sure, we go on a supernatural kind of surreal adventure with monsters and a worm that turns into an awful creature. However, the children (unnamed main character and Lettie) behave like children. They talk like children, and they cry, throw tantrums, and argue with their sister (well, this is mainly our dude character, but hey).

Gaiman creates such a rosy view of life at first, but then, it is warped and scary in parts (nothing disturbing, but it will linger for a bit).

Speaking of which…

darkness in the so-called “pure”

The story begins with a quote about children remembering or knowing things that adults assume they wouldn’t. It’s about the way we undermine children and their maturity. Truly, our unnamed hero and Lettie see some really dark stuff, stuff we wouldn’t expect children to comprehend, and they fight valiantly.

As I have said earlier, I am in awe of this teetering balance Gaiman strikes between child characters, surreal story lines, and darkness. I am intrigued by Ursula Montakin, her connection to our main character’s family, and what that really means in regards to children’s understanding of infidelity, gender roles, and family dynamics in relation to all of these things.

There is a scene in particular that stunned me: the bath scene with our main character’s father. In some ways, it highlighted the idea of embarrassment and shame contrasting with social expectations from parents. Like, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see parents negatively when they can’t “control” their children. But Ursula signifies the pressure on parents to be authority figures, even if it means they get to act aggressive.

 friendship and family

Most importantly, this is a story about found-family vs. blood family. I think our main character would have loved to see Lettie and her strangely beautiful ocean at the end of the lane. Her family, equally invested in child-like wonder and superstition, lead a safe home to the main hero. It is a home he goes back to, over and over, with and without Lettie.

It is such a telling sign that Lettie’s legacy, consciously or not, drives the main character to return for refuge throughout his life. If this isn’t what the best friendships are about, I don’t know what is.

 

Some of you may know that I lived in Egypt in the 90s. I was
The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.
        **Before I continue, I have to credit the following brilliant photographers: