Thursday, April 16, 2015

My Summer To-Read List

I haven't had the chance to read a lot of books outside of school lately, so here are some of the ones I'm excited to get to once summer starts.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson: I need to read this immediately because I loved her first novel. It's about a relationship between twins who have grown apart, and I'm 90% sure it'll make me cry.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown: I've been in the mood for a good sci-fi novel, and this one has gotten a lot of notice. It's the first of a larger trilogy (the second book was just released in January).

Rooms by Lauren Oliver: Another one of my favourite YA authors. I'm really curious to see her write something different - this one's a family drama with a kind of paranormal twist.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: This is supposed to be the year's new Gone Girl, which I really enjoyed. A woman witnesses something shocking on her daily commute and becomes implicated in the lives of two strangers.

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith: I loved Rowling's other adult novel, so I'm really excited to see how she handles a mystery. This one's also part of a larger series (she's stated her plan for at least eight Strike novels).

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson: So many people have recommended this author to me, and I'd really like to try an epic fantasy that's not Game of Thrones. It's a ten-part series, with the third book expected to come out next year.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Man and a Window

He sits and stares at the numbers, those endless curves and strikes, the page unraveling as his eyes move downward. The meaning becomes lost.

"I want that report in by seven, John."

I want to be able to take the elevator. 

His glasses slip down the curve of his nose but he doesn't push them up. He is conscious of their weight then, the pressure of the frames and the space outside them.

"There's a lot to be done, John. You'd better get started."

There is so much I cannot see. 

He notices a spot on his shirt, a faded stain just above his belt. Neapolitan ice cream, or dirt. He will go to the laundromat this week and linger there because the smell reminds him of home and funerals.

"What are you waiting for?"

He looks out the window. I am waiting for courage. I am waiting for fear. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Review: The Adoration of Jenna Fox

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E Pearson
Science Fiction
Four stars

Jenna Fox wakes up from a year-long coma with hardly any memory of her life before. Her brain has basically re-booted itself after a traumatic accident, and she has to learn how to speak and walk again with the help of her overprotective parents and reclusive grandmother. But as she re-explores the world around her, Jenna discovers events and memories that don't add up with what she's been told, and she begins to search for answers about the truth surrounding her past and how she survived.

So I haven't read this in a while, but I remember really liking Pearson's writing style. It's simple and bright and innocent, and it just fits so well with the character. Jenna's naiveté and observations are so insightful and refreshing - I love her struggle to relearn social conventions. And that's the thing, Pearson crafts such an interesting world, but it never takes away from character. It's all about Jenna's voice and experience, and then there are these poems spread throughout the story that beautifully reflect her thoughts (similar to the style in The Sky Is Everywhere). The novel is just a lovely portrayal of human life and ethics and the relationships within it and what it means to be an individual. And I'm in love with the title.

“There is something about her eyes. Eyes don't breathe. I know that much. But hers look breathless.”

Finish the series: The Fox Inheritance and Fox Forever by Mary E Pearson (I haven't read these, but I've heard they're more like companion novels than sequels)

Also recommended: The Cold Awakening trilogy by Robin Wasserman

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Little Quote

I'm reworking a short story right now, and whenever I feel a little lost I always find inspiration in other writers' quotes. This one stood out today:

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works" -Virginia Woolf

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Review: If I Stay

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Contemporary fiction
Four stars

Mia is a seventeen-year-old cellist set to go to Julliard, a decision that would mean moving away from her family and boyfriend, Adam. A tragic car accident soon puts this choice in perspective and forces her to make a new, infinitely harder one - to stay in a world that promises only loss and hurt or to leave everything, including Adam, behind. Caught in between life and death, Mia is able to watch those around her as they grieve and hope while she decides what matters most and where that will take her.

The idea of it sounds kind of cliché, but something about the writing and the characters pulls everything together beautifully. The style is simple and poetic, and the musical aspect adds so much depth and character - Mia's passion colours all of her relationships, especially with Adam. And her connection to him doesn't dictate the whole novel; it's not really about the love story, it's about friendship and family and music and what living means. There's something honest about her character and her struggles, not only with this decision but in her insecurities, her dreams. Good writing always connects you with the character, and this novel is really truthful in the way it portrays emotions and the weight of loss - you feel what this decision means and what it will cost.

“You can have your wishes, your plans, but at the end of the day, it's out of your control."

Finish the series: Where She Went by Gayle Forman (I haven't read it yet, but I've heard good things)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Little Note on Bad Writing

There's a lot of crap out there. The YA genre is notorious for its uniformity and generally bad writing, and that's part of the reason I started this blog. There are good writers and there are good books in this category, but it took me a while to be able to pick them out. The trouble is, a lot of the bad writing sells because people want fast and easy reads - and there's nothing wrong with that, but it can be hard to find books in this genre if you want to be challenged. And that's a lovely definition: good writing should challenge you, it should make you think about the characters and their decisions and their relationships. The function of all literature is to communicate some kind of truth, and when it doesn't accomplish this, writing suffers.

“Bad writing is more than a matter of shit syntax and faulty observation; bad writing usually arises from a stubborn refusal to tell stories about what people actually do― to face the fact, let us say, that murderers sometimes help old ladies cross the street.” -Stephen King

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Little Experiment

A whisper. A tremble. That fluid motion, that nothingness that wraps around. A stirring. A gust. That gentle lift, that skimming and shaping. The branches shift and lean, the grasses shimmer. A murmur, a movement. The leaves shiver and fold, shiver and fold. A silence, a tension. A building up, a turning in and tightening of things. The strong boughs creak, the earth quivers and breaths are held and everything is suspended – a pause. Then it comes, a rush, pushing, shoving, curling out and pouring over, whistling and slicing and curving around the edges, ripping through that emptiness and the hollow trees and pulling and clawing, dragging pieces and parts. A swirling, a screaming, a spectacular chaos, those mad fingers gripping and tearing and all the fragments twisting and spinning and the branches leaning and cracking and the dirt uplifted and everything losing its breath. A final thrust of air, that triumphant blast while the leaves still linger, the trees still sway, the world seems to shift and then – then just as soon a falling, a lessening, a quieting of it all. That hollow moan of things returning, drifting, settling. A hush, a stillness. The soft slow glow of life, the spreading calm and swelling silence. Everything sighs, everything waits. Everything has breath again.