Monday, March 31, 2014

NaPoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo

Hey everyone!  April is about to start, and it is going to be full of lots of writing!  This month I hope to participate in both NaPoWriMo (National Poem Writing Month) and Camp NaNoWriMo (the April version of National Novel Writing Month).


So this month, I will be writing at least one poem a day, for thirty days.  Every week I will do a post and share the highlight poems with you all!  I really enjoy free verse poetry, so that Ill be primarily what my poems will be.  Although I do like experimenting, so who knows?

Camp NaNoWriMo:

I participated in NaNoWriMo last November and was really unhappy with what I ended up with.  I felt super rushed, and didn't have enough time to develop my characters or anything.  So with this opportunity to try again before the "Big November" challenge, I want to write 50,000 words worth of short stories.  Then in July, during the second installment of Camp NaNoWriMo I will hopefully take one of my short stories and expand on it into a novel, and do the same thing with a different idea in November.  I'm not sure that it will work out that perfectly, but It's always nice to dream! Haha!

All in all, April will be full of lots of poetry and writing, my brain will need a bit of break in May, I bet, but then I'll start revisions *devil face* and gathering/organizing ideas for July and November!

In Other News 

This is somewhat related news, haha.  I've always been a journaler, but this year I completed quite the feat.  I filled an entire journal in three months.  That's pretty much a record for myself.  (Now granted, I never use the same kind of journal, so the length and page size differ.  I also don't just write in them, I draw, put pictures, ect.)  But still!  
I'm about to start my new journal, which I bought at an adorable local writing store.  Its yellow and has these adorable typewriters all over the cover!  I might share pictures sometime!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Publisher: Simon and Shuster
Publication Date: February 21st, 2012
Literary Awards:
 Stonewall Book Award (2013), Printz Honor (2013), Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Children's/Young Adult (2013), YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (Top Ten) (2013), Pura Belpre Author Award (2013)
Format: Library Copy (except that now I want a copy for myself!)
Genre: YA; Romance; LGBT; Contemporary*
Rating: ✎✎✎✎✎✎

*This book technically takes place in the 80s, but it has the contemporary vibe like Eleanor and Park.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

My Thoughts and Reflection:

I've been in a reading funk lately.  Nothing has seemed appealing, I've been exhausted from school, and my friend got me addicted to Grey's Anatomy.  Luckily, I've gotten some sleep, controlled my addiction (am only watching one episode every couple of days) and finished Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.  This book not only pulled me out of my reading funk, but utterly impressed me, and has earned itself a spot on my favorites list. 

I picked up ADDSU (do you like my acronym?  How about I just call it AD?)  So I picked up AD a couple of weeks ago at one of my many trips to the local library.  I didn't pick it up for any specific reason.  I had heard vaguely promising things, and it was quite the impressive amount of awards stacking up.  So I figured, why not?

This was one of the sweetest, most raw and contemporary books that I've read in a long time.  Sáenz grabbed you by your shirt collar and dragged you in to these character's lives.  He pushed their emotions down your throat until you felt pain along with the characters.  He pulled back and wrote simpler when there were softer moments in the story.  Sáenz wrote a beautiful story of hurt and sorrow, a story filled with goodness and light.  I found myself licking up every page, ignoring the fact that this was a plotless book; instead I was engrossed in the characters lives.  Now, plottless is a little harsh.  This book strayed from the formatted rising action/climax/falling action that lost of books follow.  Honestly, the straying worked for this story, and I can't imagine this book with a more disciplined plot.   I think that it would have stolen the focus from the characters, and that's why you keep reading as a reader.

Aristotle and Dante.  From the moment we meet these two characters, the reader knows that we are dealing with two very special boys.  We meet Aristotle first.  And Aristotle is angry.  Aristotle is angry at his parents, at his brother, at his sisters, and at himself.  At first it seems that he is just a typical teenager with family problems and a miserable social life.  But those facts do not completely define who Aristotle is.  Yes, Aristotle has family problems, but it's not as if he ignores them or enjoys them.  He acknowledges them in every pretense of his life.  He lives out his life in the shadow of his brother, he wanders a house with the ghosts of his sister.  He struggles with his mother's prying, and sits in frustration with his father's silence.

Dante changes everything.  That is a big statement; to say that one character altered the entire story.  But Dante did. 
Dante is special in all the ways that Aristotle isn't.  Dante is honest, confident, quirky, and kind.  He is talkative, persuasive, and many of the things that Aristotle isn't.  Their friendship is certainly a rocky one, with many twists and turns that change the course of both their lives.  
The most important thing about Aristotle and Dante, and their relationship, is what they teach each other.  Aristotle teaches Dante to slow down, to enjoy the silence, to have strange moments in the rain.  Dante teaches Aristotle to open up, to speak his feelings, and to push his own boundaries.  
Dante is sure of himself for pretty much the entire book, which is the opposite of Aristotle.  Aristotle is wishy washy, confused, frustrated, angry, and mean.  All of the things that teenage boys are made of.  But all the goodness and confidence that is Dante, helps Aristotle become the person, the man that he needs to be.
Aristotle also helps Dante overcome, or sort of get a new perspective on being Mexican.  Ethnicity and origin are not a big part of this book, certainly not as big as in other books I've read.  It is more subtle in this book, which was nice.  It brought out different things, like insecurities with Dante, while not taking away the focus from the characters.  The reader didn't suddenly become distracted by the debate about Mexican culture in America, instead of staying focused on how being Mexican made our character feel.  Sánez balanced these concepts very professionally.

Dante also teaches Aristotle to be open with his parents, which sort of awakes the monsoon of questions, conversations, and yes, tears.  Finally, the silence, the prying without depth, comes to an end.  Aristotle gets answers to the things looming in his life, and he also renews his relationships with his parents. Of course their relationships aren't perfect, I mean, he is a teenager.  And teenager besides, no relationship is perfect.  But Aristotle and his parents make wonderful strides with wonderful results.

My favorite characters, by far, were Dante's parents.  They were so honest, so real, so genuine.  I loved to think that such good, honest people could possibly exist in the world.  Their love for Dante, and for Aristotle is admirable.  Sánez had very developed secondary characters, and background stories, with out being overly detailed.  

Love.  My favorite part of this entire book was the amount of love that gets passed among all of the characters.  Love that is given, returned, lost, and forgotten.  I have not felt such love, such heartache, such happiness or pain as I did reading this book.


This book was an amazing mix of beautiful characters, roller coaster lives, and articulate writing.  I would recommend this to fans of John Green, Eleanor and Park, LGBT YA, and honestly, if you like a quality book, just pick this up.  Even if you don't fit into the other fan categories that I just listed.  Believe me, you won't be sorry.

Dust Jacket Ramblings:

I think that this is one of the best covers of a book that I have seen in a long time.  The font of the title captures the imaginative essence of the book.  The doodles and illustrations capture Aristotle and Dante individually.  I like how both sides mirror each other, but are unique.  The red pick up truck certainly brings attention to Aristotle's beloved truck, which is the definition of  his summers with Dante.   Overall, I think that this is a cover that is just for this amazing story.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's Top Ten is "Top Ten  Books on My Spring TBR List".  

I. My Long Awaited Release

I'm a huge fan of Lauren Oliver and am super excited about her newest book!  The premise is really interesting and I need to get my hands on a copy.

II. The Book With All the Hype

The Winners Curse has gotten a lot of hype lately, so why not?  I think that I can follow a t least a little trending. :D

III. The Book That I Don't Want to Finish

So far, I have adored Marissa Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles.  I have had a copy since the day it was released; I even got it signed!  I have just been avoiding really reading it, because as soon as it's over I have to wait a year for Winter.  But putting it off is ridiculous because I've heard only good things, mostly that it's even better than Scarlet.  And I thought that Scarlet was one of the most impressive sequels ever.  I better get a move on, huh?

IV. The Book With the Amazing Cover

'Nuff said.

V. The Book That's Been on My Shelf Since Last Summer

Yeah, I have a bad habit of buying books and not reading them right away.  So I'm going to try and work on that.  

VI. Book That I Saw Months Ago on a Publisher's Catalog

I've been waiting!!!!!!

VII.  Book That Snuck It's Way Home From the Library

It just jumped onto the scanner and into my bag I swear!

VIII.  Book That My Friends Have Reviewed Highly

And isn't the cover just gorgeous!!!

IX.  Book That I Requested From the Library a Long Time Ago and Now Finally is In My Hands

I honestly don't even remember what it was about!  Let's see!

X.  Because the Premise is Adorable

No other words.

In Other News:

I DNF'd Cinder's and Sapphires.  I was sooooo bored.  I'm kind of bummed, though.  It's not that often that I DNF books.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Everyday: An Alternative YA Romance

Title: Every Day
Author: David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 28th, 2012
Literary Awards: American Library Association Rainbow List Top 10 (2014) and  YALSA Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults (Top Ten) (2014)
Format: Library Copy
Genre: YA; Contemporary; Alternative; Romance; Fantasy
Rating: ✎✎✎

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

My Thoughts and Reflection:

I wouldn't say that I'm an expert on David Levithan's work, but I would say that I am familiar with it.  I have read Will Grayson, Will Grayson (which he co-wrote with John Green!!!) and Dash and Lily's Book of Dares (which he co-wrote with Rachel Cohn).  I guess that this is my first book that is written solely by Levithan.
Anyway, I've had Every Day on my to-read list for a while, and when I saw it a the library I picked it up because, why not?

I love the beginning of this book.  Just after reading the first paragraph, the reader is thrust into our protagonist's world.  We feel their emotion, feel their struggle.  The set-up and explaining in this book are quick and to the point.  Within two pages of the beginning the reader rarely needs further explanation for the magical concepts in this story.  Levithan paints a wispy, dream like premise.  Despite the bizarre circumstances, A is a very relatable protagonist.  The reader feels all of this empathy for A's situation.

I thought that A was a complex protagonist.  They are quite relatable in their feelings.  They feel these raw emotions about family and relationships.  This story gives a new perspective on separation anxiety.  
This story focused mostly on the annoying romance between A and Rhiannon.  Rhiannon was such a real character; so much like a lot of teenaged girls.  That's what defined her and ruined her.  Yes, she was one of the most realistic characters that I've read in YA, she was almost too realistic.  I just couldn't concoct with Rhiannon, so that made me distant from this story. 

I wish that with this concept of waking up in a different body every day Levithan had focused more on the family side instead of the romantic relationship side.  I know that the family concept was talked about, I just wish that it had been more of the focus.

I also wish that Levithan had explored more about the gender ambiguity that A has.  In this story, it's more a problem in relationships than just being something that A thinks about.

I wasn't exactly impressed with the plot.  It was sort of boring a predictable.  All of the characters actions had obvious consequences, or there was just wayyyy to much obvious foreshadowing.  However, Levithan does have a talent for beautiful writing.  Here a couple of my favorite passages;

"This is what love does: It makes you want to rewrite the world.  It makes you want to choose the characters, build the scenery, guide the plot.  The person you love sits across from you, and you want to do everything in your power to make it possible, endlessly possible.  And when It's just the two of you, alone in a room, you can pretend that this is how it is, this is how it will be." (Pg. 175)

"It is my father who looks diminished now.  As if when someone close to us dies, we momentarily trade places with them, in the moment right before.  And as we get over it, we're really living their life in reverse, from death to life, from sickness to health." (Pg. 266)

I felt that we didn't get to know any other secondary characters, which was disappointing.  Secondary characters are some of my favorite parts of stories, because I love how their lives impact the protagonists so greatly.  But anyway, I missed getting to now more about the other lives in this story.

Overall, I was less impressed with this book than anything else that I've read my Levithan.  I really liked the premise, except I disliked the focus on romance.  I really enjoyed some of the character development, but found it lacking in other places.  Overall, the magical writing really held the poorly plotted story together.

Dust Jacket Ramblings:

I love that this cover is in black and white, I think it adds a layer of simplicity to the story.  I like the clouds and the floating characters, except that I dislike that they made A be a male.  He is not a male for the entire book, and I wish that A's gender ambiguity had been more properly represented on the cover.

In Other News:

I finally got a twitter for the blog!  Check it out: Twitter


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: My Top Ten Favorite Fantasy Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

This week's Top Ten is "Top Ten Favorite Books in X Genre".  (I chose fantasy! :) 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
This has always been my favorite Harry Potter book.  I'm not quite sure why… maybe because of the Triwizard tournament aspect on top of the regular Harry Potter plot.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
I first read this book when I was nine and have reread it a bunch of times since then.  I love the characters and the crazy ideas.  Such an old favorite.

Dark Mirror by M. J. Putney
I read this series a couple of summers ago and it was this amazing mix of fantasy and historical fiction.  So many fantastic characters!

Magyk by Angie Sage
I think that this is like a Harry Potter series but probably appeals to younger, more Middle Grade readers.  Still really interesting though! :)

The Girl with Borrowed Wings by Rinsai Rossetti 
I adored this book.  The best fantasy romance that I've read!

Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck
I read this book last summer and adored the characters and beautiful writing.  I need to finish the series! :)

11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass
This was my favorite book as a kid!!!!  I loved the characters so much, and had the story memorized by heart.  You should see my copy of it!  Still have it, although it's pretty yellow and battered! 

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
This is such an interesting concept and I adored the plot of this book!  

The Pentrals by Crystal Mack
This is the most unique, sort of indie/alternative fantasy that I've read.  It was absolutely wonderful though!

– Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
This is my favorite fantasy book EVER!!!!!!!  The characters, the concept, the plot, everything is just wonderful and gahhhhhh!!!!!!!!

I hope that you liked my top ten!  

In Other News:

I'm almost done with Everyday by David Leviathan, so look for a review sometime soon! :)


Monday, March 10, 2014

If You Could Be Mine: Raw Contemporary Romance

Title: If You Could Be Mine
Author: Sara Farizan
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: August 20th, 2013
Literary Awards: American Library Association Rainbow List Top 10 (2014) and  YALSA Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults (Top Ten) (2014)
Format: Library Copy
Genre: YA; Contemporary; LGBT
Rating: ✎✎✎✎


Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.

So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.

Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?

My Thoughts and Reflection:

When I first read the blurb of this book, I was completely intrigued.  After reading a couple of pages, I was completely engrossed.  I ended up finishing this book in one day.  If it weren't for school, I probably would have finished it in one sitting.
I tried describing this book to my father.  I didn't go with the obvious thing, and just reword the blurb for him.  I really thought about it, and came to the conclusion that above all the heartbreak, character development, and culture knowledge I gained through reading this book, the most important thing is that this book is progressive. Keep that in mind.

I have personally never been to Iran.  I don't know that much about it either.  I have studied the Middle East and Islam in school, and I suppose Iran shows up in the news, but that is the extent to which I can say that I knew about Iran before this book.  After reading this book, I have found that I am a lot more informed about the culture, laws, social expectations in Iran.  It's not often that I learn so much from a book!  My favorite part about learning as I read was that our protagonist Sahar was not telling us the rules.  It all came up in dialogue, or my favorite, when she was reflecting on something to herself.  It became apparent quite early on that Sahar had opinions on a lot of different laws in Iran.  I am impressed with the talent that debut author Sara Farizan has revealed.

Sara Farizan opens up the story in the beginning, which is the proper place to start, I suppose.  The reader is introduced to our protagonist Sahar and her best friend Nasrin, as children.  I think that showing characters as children is a very smart move by any author.  Childhood is the root to what people become later.  It reveals begins of troubles, the loss of innocence, and provides a backstory that is often necessary to truly grasp each character as a whole.  In this story, this childhood setup gives the reader the knowledge of the intense and deep relationship that Sahar and Nasrin have.
After the initial setup, our conflict is introduced.  Nasrin has become engaged!  Sahar is overcome with shock and betrayal.  The courtship had occurred in secret for weeks; Nasrin had not divulged a single detail.  Sahar is blindsided, and ignorant with love.  She is willing to do anything to keep Nasrin.
Parallell to the drama with Nasrin's engagement, Sahar's cousin Ali introduces her into this different world in Iran.  A world with people of Western ideas, where homosexuality and  being transgender is totally acceptable.  Sahar is not exactly appalled at first, because she is in no denial of the homosexual thoughts and actions that have occurred.  She is most curious about the transgendered.

In Iran, gender reassignment is seen as a solution to nature's mistake.  It is not only completely legal, but the procedures are funded by the government.  (That's really cool!!!)  Sahar becomes friends with someone that Ali knows, named Paraveen.  Paraveen is a gorgeous, kind, sucsesfull, confident, transgender girl.  Sahar is shocked to learn that Paraveen was once a man.
Despite the painful details of the procedure and social drama that Paraveen shares with Sahar, (being transgender is legal in Iran but not always socially accepted), Sahar is convinced that this is the solution to being with Nasrin.  Paraveen helps Sahar on her journey of sexual discovery.
I almost consider Paraveen to be the fairy godmother in this story.  Paraveen is wiser and more experienced than Sahar, but she also lets Sahar make her own mistakes.  Paraveen is never able to fully fix things for Sahar, but Sahar helps Paraveen to.  As the story progressed their friendship became more equalized; Paraveen becoming less of a mentor and more of a friend.  My favorite part about Paraveen as a character is that she was not perfect.  She had been through hell and back, and had the marks to prove it.  Even with all of her gorgeousness, she had flaws too.  I think that it's interesting that her hands remained "mannish", although it sort of makes sense.  Reconstructive surgery on hands would seem tedious and frivolous after everything else that Paraveen went through. 
Ali remains almost the fool of the story.  He makes obvious mistakes, but always seems to have fun.  He leads this glamorous life, that Sahar comes to realize is actually not so glamorous.  
Ali symbolizes a lot of the social rebellion in this story, and most importantly he teaches Sahar a lot.

Sahar's family life and economic standing come into play a lot in this book.  The reader learns early on that Sahar's mother is dead, and she only lives with her father (although Ali is a frequent visitor in the home).  Sahar's mother's death has caused a major change in Sahar's father.  He suffers from absent parent syndrome, and I don't mean that in the way that a lot of YA books are being criticized (where the parents have some vague excused absence for the entirety or majority of the book), I mean in the way that Sahar's father is depressed, and in turn ignoring her.  This is all something that Sahar acknowledges, and she certainly thinks about it quite a lot. 
I was sad to see Sahar go through all of this pain with Nasrin; unable to confide in her father.  Granted, even if he had been more doting, she probably wouldn't have told him considering that her actions and feelings are illegal, but Sahar does wish that he even noticed that something was wrong.
Nasrin's family is richer than Sahar's.  Sahar's father builds furniture, but hasn't been doing as many pieces since her mother's death, and what he does do is not his best workmanship.  This social difference is just another thing that drives a nail between Nasrin and Sahar.

This book is focused around a romance.  I'm sure that we've all read books where we're cringing about the love interest.  Either they are actually a terrible person, or they are clingy, or fake, or have some other undesirable quality.  As a person, I absolutely couldn't stand Nasrin.  She was ignorant, shallow, fake, and obsessed with social appearance.  All of these qualities are things that Sahar was oblivious to at first, however after the engagement was announced, the seems began to show.  It was really Nasrin's selfishness that was the most painful to read.  Sahar was willing to do anything and endure anything to be with Nasrin, while Nasrin didn't see any of that, or if she did, she didn't care.  She treated Sahar as this little toy to keep her entertained as children.
As the reader, there is a lot of wondering about why Sahar would ever stay so infatuated with Nasrin, but she admits it herself in the book.  Something along the lines of "Nasrin was the one that listened, especially after [mother] died".  

I was proud of Sahar in the end.  She became her own independent person for the first time, and while there was a lot of pain along the way, the reader knows that some day in the future she ail be grateful for the layering that the entire experience allowed.  
Yes, the ending was sad, but it wasn't unsatisfying.  The story was wrapped up, but allowed hope for the characters in the future.  That is what I look for in an ending; a conclusion, with room for the reader to imagine the lives of the characters later.


I would definitely recommend If You Could Be Mine.  It was spunky, real, and thought provoking.  I am curious about what sort of topics Sara Farizan could tackle in the future.

Dust Jacket Ramblings:

I love this cover!  I think that the hands embody Sahar and Nasrin's relationship.  I also like how both the hands are drawn delicately, so it is obvious that they are girls hands.   I also like how only one hand has the painted nails, (obviously our resident slave-to-fasion Nasrin).  The flowery design at the bottom and top keep the cover interesting without being overly busy.  

In Other News:
It's the beginning of the week, I'm already tired, and need to get some more reading done!  I picked up Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger today at the library.  My English teacher recommended that I read "For Esmé––with Love and Squalor".  I'm really curious.  I haven't read that many short stories, and I have no clue what it's about.  My teacher just thought that I'd enjoy the writing, so I said ok!  Let's see how it goes!


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Solitary: Escape from Furnace #2

*Changed My Spoiler Policy*

I spent a lot of time thinking and realized that it was sort of dumb that my reviews were containing spoilers… So, from now on my reviews will be spoiler free.  But if a book is in a series the review may contain spoilers for previous books in the series.
Now, I know that I sometimes enjoy reading another bloggers in depth views on a book, so if you want to chat more about something email me at

Title: Solitary: Escape from Furnace
Series: Escape from Furnace #2
Author: Alexander Gordon Smith
Publisher: Farrar Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: December 21st, 2010
Format: Library Copy
Genre: YA; Horror; Dystopian
Rating:  ✎✎✎

Alex Sawyer and his mates should have known there was no way out of Furnace Penitentiary. Their escape attempt only lands them deeper in the guts of this prison for young offenders, and then into solitary confinement. And that's where a whole new struggle begins—a struggle not to let the hellish conditions overwhelm them.  Because before another escape attempt is even possible, they must first survive the nightmare that now haunts their endless nights.

My Thoughts and Reflection:
*This is Book Two*
Review for Lockdown here.

After I finished Lockdown the same friend who made me read that pestered me until I picked up the sequel, so here we are!

Solitary began with a bang, starting right in the moments that Lockdown ended.  Alex and his buddies are high on the prospect of escape, and the possibility is just in their grasp.  As always, The Furnace thwarts the groups plan again.  Zee and Alex end up in Solitary confinement, and that is where things get interesting.
I enjoyed the plot of Solitary, but moved less with fact paced ferocity that Lockdown did.  Although the horror aspect was certainly upped, something that I was not expecting.  Smith was able to incorporate more character development into Solitary than in Lockdown, which was something that I except from a sequel, and was satisfying.  Donovan, however, we see very little of.   I was disappointed by that and missed the sarcastic rebellious elements that he brought to the story.  Zee becomes more developed as a character, revealing resourcefulness and faithfulness that he hadn't shown before.
I think that the most important thing that the character development showed us was how Alex felt about himself.  Very early on the reader comes to the realization that Alex believes that while he did not kill his friend Toby, he does deserve to be in the Furnace.  Those emotions lead to some dire situations and add a layer of rawness that Lockdown didn't contain.
The end of the book left the reader as breathless and on edge as Lockdown did.  However, I'm not as compelled to continue with the series as I was with Lockdown.  Smith lost some of the beautifully worded passages that I loved so much.  I was so excited to receive more of that as a reader, and was disappointed to find that Solitary was primarily character development, and some plot movement.  
This book is completely targeted toward a male audience, which is funny, but understandable.  The only girl mentioned between the two books is Alex's mother!!  Despite this male centered content, I think that this series is not something that a girls should just pass up on.  


I will likely continue with the series for the sake that I am curious about more explanation.  I really want to know what the general public would think if they knew about what really goes on in the furnace.  I really want to see Alex reunited with his parents again.  So, despite the let down this book was, I am not completely ready to give up on the characters. 

Dust Jacket Ramblings:

I like how the door scheme has continued from one cover to another.  I also like the focus on one face, this one I suppose must be Alex?  The texture of his skin and the darkness of the background add to the spooky affect.  The font, of course, adds to the military style prison aspect that the book revolves around.  

In Other News:

The week is almost over!  I've been doing a lot of reading, and I found this cool poem that I'd like to share!

He Loves the Rain 
by Shinji Moon 

I think we all speak a different kind of language
than each other, but you sound a whole lot like coffee on a
Sunday morning and the rain is falling bitter against the windowpane
and your elbows are making holes in the countertops, and
I only want to tell you that I wish I was as close as the threads of your
t-shirt, and if I can’t be that, then I’ll be content with
drinking my drink beside you, with the rain sloppy open mouth kissing
the roof, trying to dismantle the etymology of a conversation
that falls out of the realm of words.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Remy Rant: The Name Astrid in YA

Remy Rant:
The Name Astrid in YA

Lately, it feels like, the name Astrid is popping up all over YA literature.  In the past month alone I've read two books with characters who are named Astrid, Ask the Passengers and Gone.  
Repeating names isn't something new in YA, considering that, unless you're writing a fantasy book, authors tend to choose names that are relatively familiar to readers.  Evidently, names get repeated, which is okay.  
So I should be okay with the name Astrid being repeated again in YA, right?
Wrong.  Astrid isn't exactly a common name, (no offense to all the Astrid's out there, I'm sure there are a lot of you), but I don't even know any Astrid's IRL. Astrid is a unique name, that's why it's so strange that there are so many characters named that, and that's why I remember this anomaly.
What I'm really getting at here, is that if an author chooses a less popular, but still existent name, other authors should not choose that name so that we can avoid situations like these, when there are four books just off the top of my head with characters who have the same name.
Just to be clear, I love the name Astrid.  I think it's a beautiful, and different name, which is why I think that it deserves to not be popularized by YA literature.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ask the Passengers: Contemporary LGBT

Title: Ask The Passengers
Author: A. S. King
Publisher: Little Brown
Publication Date: October 23, 2012
Awards: Los Angeles Times Book Prize Winner (2012)
Format: Library Copy
Genre: YA, Contemporary, LGBT
Rating: ✎✎✎✎✎


Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother's pushiness and her father's lack of interest tell her they're the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn't know the passengers inside, but they're the only people who won't judge her when she asks them her most personal questions . . . like what it means that she's falling in love with a girl.

My Thoughts and Reflection:
*Spoilers May be Found Floating Amongst the Clouds*

Let me just start with saying that this was one of the most satisfying YA contemporaries that I've read in a long time.  
Okay, so anyway, I picked this book up at my local library while randomly browsing.  I haven't read much by A. S. King, only Please Ignore Viera Dietz (Review Here).  

The first thing that I think of when describing this book is how amazingly deep all of the characters were.  Astrid, as the protagonist, got most of the attention.  We dive immediately into her mind, where she talks to philosophers, tries to connect with her parents, fails at understanding her small town society,  grasps for her sexuality, and sends love to passengers in the planes that fly overhead.
Astrid's parents were some of the most present parents that I've seen in a YA book in an extremely long time. Astrid's mother was a difficult character to deal with.  She was annoying, unloving, and overall self absorbed.  Astrid's father was oblivious, although sort of omnipresent throughout the book.  The dynamic of his relationship with Astrid is really interesting.  Astrid's sister also plays the perfect sisterly role.  She wasn't quite a typical sister, and that gave her a lot of potential.
Astrid had some interesting friends.  Kristina seems like a good friend at first, but then it becomes obvious that she really isn't the kind of friend that Astrid really should want.  Of course they make up after their fight, but is positive, but I think that they have a doomed relationship.  
The Justin/Astrid relationship isn't really apparent at all in the book.  Whenever Justin is around he's either with Kristina or Chad.  It took me a while to figure out that Justin and Kristina were each other's beards.  I should have realized that long before I did.  
I didn't like our love interest, Dee, at first.  I was so worried that she was taking advantage of Astrid and was going to push her too far.  This all is acknowledged in the book, and the way that they work through their relationship is mature and inspiring.
The way that Astrid made up a version of a philosopher was quirky and silly, but made her come across as genuine.  The parts when she would "send" her love to the passengers, is fascinating, but ultimately sad.  She originally felt that there was no one with her that she wanted to send her love to, so she sent it to strangers.  Seeing the passengers reactions to the love and the glimpses into their lives was a thoughtful touch.
Overall, I thought that Astrid made a noble journey finding her sexual identity, a noble journey realizing who her really friends are, and a noble journey to discovering that there were plenty of people that she could send love to right there with her.

Dust Jacket Ramblings:

I love the cover of this book.  I think that it captures the whimsicalness of Astrid's personality, as well as giving a hint at her laying and talking to the passengers.  An accurate, not overly done cover.

In Other News:

I read a lot this past week, although I wasn't sleeping very well.  Sigh….  
You may have noticed that I'm no longer reading Cress by Marrisa Meyer.  I haven't finished it.  It just came out, and I really want it to last as long as possible, because the sequel comes out next year.  I'll get around to it soon, I just am not quite ready to yet.  
I discussed Unwind by Neil Shusterman with my local book club.  It was fun to discuss, considering all of the creepy and controversial things that go on in that book.  
I really liked Debby's post over at Snuggly Oranges about Surprises Under the Cover.