Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Want to Re-read

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi: It's everything I could ask for in a dystopian. And unlike other first novels in a series, a lot happens. It can get annoying when the first book in a series merely feels like a set-up for the real story in book two. Thankfully, Under the Never Sky was nothing like that.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone: This was both strange and beautiful. The kind of weird fantasy I enjoy with exquisite writing and a fresh plot.

The Ghosts of Ashbury High by Jaclyn Moriarty: I don't know what it is about Australian authors, but they continue to impress me. And this book remains to be one of the most intriguing, strange, entrancing stories I've ever read.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson: This book felt so pure and honest to me. It makes me remember moments in my life at that age. It's authentically beautiful. It's authentically heartbreaking. And it's a great lesson in moving on and growing up.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King: I don't know how King does it. But she takes these contemporary stories and adds a fantastical flare the make her novels "inhalable."
(Inhalable books - A book that is practically inhaled based on how fast it was read.)

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin: It's like the author created this just for me. I love anything with mythological gods/creatures. And this one manages to pull off an epic fantasy with politics, a murder mystery, and a deep family drama (to say the least).

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: This surpassed all expectations and gave my everything and I could have ever wanted from Ms. Stiefvater. I could write essays about how much I adore this book.

Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux: This book never got as big as I'd hoped, but it really is one of my favorite zombie books of all time.

Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr: Imagine my surprise when the fourth book in my favorite series, Wicked Lovely became my favorite one in the entire series. I've never read a series where the first book wasn't ultimately the best of the set.

The Sons of Achilles by Madeline Miller: Every few months I think about this book. It's one of the most beautifully written novels I've ever read.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Earth Girl Review

Summary: A sensational YA science fiction debut from an exciting new British author. Jarra is stuck on Earth while the rest of humanity portals around the universe. But can she prove to the norms that she’s more than just an Earth Girl?

2788. Only the handicapped live on Earth. While everyone else portals between worlds, 18-year-old Jarra is among the one in a thousand people born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets. Sent to Earth at birth to save her life, she has been abandoned by her parents. She can’t travel to other worlds, but she can watch their vids, and she knows all the jokes they make. She’s an ‘ape’, a ‘throwback’, but this is one ape girl who won’t give in.

Jarra invents a fake background for herself – as a normal child of Military parents – and joins a class of norms that is on Earth to excavate the ruins of the old cities. When an ancient skyscraper collapses, burying another research team, Jarra’s role in their rescue puts her in the spotlight. No hiding at back of class now. To make life more complicated, she finds herself falling in love with one of her classmates – a norm from another planet. Somehow, she has to keep the deception going.

A freak solar storm strikes the atmosphere, and the class is ordered to portal off-world for safety – no problem for a real child of military parents, but fatal for Jarra. The storm is so bad that the crews of the orbiting solar arrays have to escape to planet below: the first landing from space in 600 years. And one is on collision course with their shelter.

My Thoughts: With YA, I’ve read a lot of books where the main female character is supposed to be special, but doesn’t know why. And that, by itself, is OK. I think a lot of people in real life don’t understand why they’re special, but it doesn’t mean it’s not true. Unfortunately, in these kinds of books, the character reminds you repeatedly how unsure of themselves they are at each turn.  It happens to mirror some real life problems women deal with, but that’s a longer story. What was refreshing about Jarra is that I didn’t have to be concerned with that. She was exceptional, and she didn’t go off questioning it or apologizing for it.

Another standout aspect was the worldbuilding. This society that’s been built around portals, with their social caste and past that mirrors the 21st century, was so imaginative. By the beginning chapters, I was almost salivating with the thought of how cinematic this was. And that whatever problems Jarra faced to get what she wanted would be awesome to watch unravel. But here’s where things get a bit murky. Jarra’s main problems came from herself, which isn’t abnormal in a man vs. self-type conflict. But there were other problems that seemed to suggest man vs. nature, except there was no deeper connection between the inner and outer conflict.  The “rescue missions” (I won’t say more than that) didn’t tie in well enough to the internal problem.

Or maybe my issue was that Edwards set up a world where something bigger could have happened. Like, don’t give me a Star Trek world and have the whole story take place on earth. That’s what it felt like. Jarra’s personal problems could have been in the midst of a bigger/deeper “world” problem, but it wasn’t. With that said, I’m aware that this is the first of a series. And because I loved Jarra and the world, and could still see where a second book could redeem the story, I won’t give up on this series. It has too much potential!

Update: I just read the premise of the second book, and it sounds like what I wanted to happen during the first book!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The 5th Wave review

Summary: The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

My Thoughts: I read a blog post a couple of weeks back about insight into what people working at book publishing companies look for in a manuscript. To sum it up, there was nothing special this particular person was looking for. No wizards over dragons, or road trips instead of dying patients. But something that was interesting is that this person always looked forward to the novel about a subject that they weren’t really into. Basically, if you wrote about something she didn’t really like and made her like it, then the book was really good. The 5th Wave is my supreme example of that.

To my knowledge, I’ve never read a book about, pertaining to, or including aliens. I avoid it. I try my hardest, and sometimes fail to stop myself from rolling my eyes whenever my dad tells me he saw another show proving aliens exist. And I put books like this, at the bottom of the tbr list, because even though I’ll give it a try (because I’ve heard great things)… it’s still about aliens.

Here’s the thing. Books are repetitive. Stories are repetitive. There’s something a character wants, and the whole story is about either striving to get it, and getting it, or striving to get it, but not getting it (in that case they might get what they need rather than what they want.) This is pretty simple. And when life as you know it ends, it’s hard to talk about anything but grief. Well, Cassie could go on talking about grief and despair (and other things) for a full series and I’d still eat it up. She thinks brutally and honestly to the point that I’d start to get a feeling in my gut that maybe I shouldn’t roll my eyes too hard when dad starts talking about area 51. It felt that real.

As for the story, the way it was split up between the main characters seemed questionable at first, but it was all brought together perfectly by the end. I knew they would connect somehow, but I initially wondered how story A would line up with story B. And it didn’t happen the way I wanted it to. It actually turned out better than I could have imagined.

And the action! Even though we’re in characters heads a lot, there is so much action. I read the first chapter and immediately thought that this story was film-worthy. No wonder there was a deal for a movie before The 5th Wave was even released. There’s irony, which makes the best kind of stories (especially movies). There’s people you’re rooting for and people you’re suspicious about that seem to trade places out of nowhere. There’s heartbreak, and not kiddie heartbreak. I mean people suffering in terrible ways. And yet, there’s hope.  Hope that you’re a mayfly and not a cockroach (it’ll make sense if you read it), or a human and not a shark. And even though life is fleeting, that you’ll learn to use what little time you have left, alien invasion or not, to do something that matters.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Will it or Won't it: The Fault in Our Stars

I’m not sure if it’s my love for books and movies or my years at film school (or both), but when I hear certain book adapted movies are coming out, I’m either immediately thrilled about it or dreading it. This often has nothing to do with whether or not I liked the book, and more to do with whether it makes a successful film. For instance, when I heard about the Beautiful Creatures movie, it was a no for me. When I saw the trailer it was an even bigger no. When I heard about the Hunger Games movie, I was ecstatic because it felt like a successful movie series.  One that was an in between was Percy Jackson and the Olympians. I thought it could be successful, and I still stand by that. It could have. But for whatever reason, it got turned into something less incredible.

Will it or Won’t it will be about YA (mostly) book-adapted movies that I think will or won’t be successful. Which is relative. One of these movies could still do well, but not well enough that I think it should have been made. Also, there are tons of excellent films that not many people go to see. I’d still deem that kind of film successful if it had all the right elements. And I will always support YA, which is why I still saw Beautiful Creatures. And why I’ll probably still see any other Percy Jackson movie (please let them continue to improve). Up first: The Fault in Our Stars.

I was so excited when I saw that the script had made it on Hollywood’s Blacklist in 2012. This is a film that I wanted to get made before I even finished the book. I read it when it first came out, so details are a bit muddled. I do remember that it’s the perfect mix of sad and happy. You want a movie that makes you laugh and cry. It’s also “movie funny,” as in, the things I read are things I want to actually see happen. It’s romantic in a way that makes me wish I had a relationship like that (sort of). And the whole book isn’t in the main character’s head. That’s what I think makes it really difficult to turn a book into a movie. When all the important parts are in someone’s head and you can’t see it through dialogue and action. How do you know what you need to know without the screenwriter and producers changing aspects about the story (which I hate and often doesn’t work)? The Fault in Our Stars isn’t a three book series that will turn into four movies. It's not the next Harry Potter or Twilight. It’s tragic. It’s about normal lives. And I don’t know how well it’ll do money-wise. But in my own version of success: It Will.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Fangirl review

Summary: A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. 

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My thoughts: 433 pages later, and it's still really hard to believe that the woman who wrote Eleanor & Park wrote this. That book left me with an open wound. Fangirl left me smiling cheesily.  And I'm not trying to dismiss the hard parts of this book. The character's problems in Eleanor & Park were front and center for everyone to see, but Fangirl, not so much. Regardless, there's still lots of problems. Problems with siblings. Problems with family. Problems with boys. And problems with trying to be whole when people took pieces from you long ago. But all these troubles are intermixed with a lot of relatable good-natured positive aspects. Like new friendships, first loves, forgiveness, and an awareness of oneself like never before. 

And Fangirl speaks to me! The way Anna from Anna and the French Kiss did when I found out she wrote movie reviews. In a way, Cath is us!... Or better yet, Cath is me. The girl who is perfectly contempt with spending time with characters on a Friday night rather than going to a party, making pleasantries, and getting drunk (and the fact that I just said "making pleasantries and getting drunk" probably proves my point). 

For me, this story wasn't hard hitting. But I don't think it needed to be. I don't need every good book to break my heart. Sometimes I just need one that can heal it.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Lost Hero review

Summary: Jason has a problem.
He doesn't remember anything before waking up on a school bus holding hands with a girl. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper. His best friend is a kid named Leo, and they're all students in the Wilderness School, a boarding school for "bad kids", as Leo puts it. What he did to end up here, Jason has no idea—except that everything seems very wrong.

Piper has a secret.
Her father, a famous actor, has been missing for three days, and her vivid nightmares reveal that he's in terrible danger. Now her boyfriend doesn't recognize her, and when a freak storm and strange creatures attack during a school field trip, she, Jason, and Leo are whisked away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood. What is going on?

Leo has a way with tools.
His new cabin at Camp Half-Blood is filled with them. Seriously, the place beats Wilderness School hands down, with its weapons training, monsters, and fine-looking girls. What's troubling is the curse everyone keeps talking about, and that a camper's gone missing. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist they are all—including Leo—related to a god

My Thoughts: I was excited about The Lost Hero for the pure fact that it was the beginning of a new series that still took place in the same world as Riordan's previous series. I loved being able to see old characters, but still having a new story to marvel over. I do admit that initially, I eyed Jason, Piper, and Leo with pre-judged contempt (sorry). It's like when new characters show up on my TV shows. I need a few episodes before I'm at ease with the situation (or not). And its not that I wanted the new trio to "match" Percy, Annabeth, and Grover. I just wanted them to stand out in their own way. I didn't want their quest to be underwhelming.

And it definitely wasn't! There's a mystery that the main characters are trying to solve, both in relation to their quest and to their leader's identity. Thanks to my love of Greek mythology, I tried to solve the latter (I didn't want to "pre-guess" their quest), but to no avail until characters dropped huge hints near the end of the book.

In both mysteries, I was impressed by Riordan's abilities to take this series to the next level. Everything seemed elevated. More things were at stake. And he won me over with the three main characters. They each had something in their personalities that made them endearing. They all had something in their pasts that made me sympathize. And this is just the beginning. I know I am behind in the series, but I'm positive that I'm in for a wild ride with the next three books. Up next: The Son of Neptune.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Top Ten Things On My Reading Wishlist

I have a bunch of ideas that I want specific authors to write about:

Maggie Stiefvater: Speed racing. I love movies with speed racing in them; I wish there were more YA books about it. Although, Maggie doesn’t actually have to do this subject because I plan to write about it… It’s just going to take a few years.

Another story told in the same world as Scorpio Races. I don’t want to jinx anything but Scorpio Races is my favorite book from her and has become one of my favorite books in general.

Jaclyn Moriarty:  I love anything about King Arthur, especially before he became King (Sword in the Stone-esqe).  And I love the way Moriarty writes. Why not put the two together?

Sidenote: I was going to say she should write a retelling of Sherlock but never mind.

Matthew J. Kirby: Anything, absolutely ANYTHING that’s similar to Icefall. That was a book that I knew was good after I finished reading it, but it got even better as I “lived” with it and processed it. So having anything like it would be a real treat for me.

N. K. Jemisin: YA coming of age love story with people of color at the forefront. I’m black. I want to see someone black in my books, or at least something different.

N. K. Jemisin: Some story steeped in African mythology. I love the Greek gods, but it’s like we forgot there were other places with their own mythology.

Melissa Mar: A story similar to the premise of the film Light It Up: where six teenage high school seniors hold a police officer hostage inside their school after their attempt to defend their newly-fired teacher goes horribly wrong.

Karen Healey: Anything like The Shattering.
A. S. King: A retelling of Medusa.

John Green: An adventurous, one-day, hangover (for teenagers) styled story.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Name of the Wind review

Summary: I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

You may have heard of me.

My thoughts: In every story made, whether via book, show, movie, etc., there is always a way for it to get better. From characters to plot points, there’s ways to enhance a story. In this way, I don’t think I could ever call any piece of art form perfect (even Breaking Bad). With that being said, I would have to dig deep, re-read, and make immense, detailed notes in order to find something to improve about The Name of the Wind.

I like all kinds of books, but when it really comes down to it, a hero’s journey is what I love to read about the most. And a hero’s journey is what I got in Kvothe/Kote’s story. What makes it more interesting is that this isn’t the beginning of a journey. Technically the story within the story starts from the beginning, but the actual story isn’t about beginnings. In fact, it almost sounds like it’s close to the end. And because everyone (in the story) knows different parts of his journey, he’s already become a legend, which is not an aspect I’m used to reading about when learning about the beginnings of a hero. This means that from the start, Kote sounded too good to be true. But when he started to tell his story, and it differentiated from the amazing adventures of the legendary Kvothe, his authenticity and lack of perfection made me love him even more than if the legends had been 100% true.

It was exciting to see the beginnings of a legend. And to see how the art of storytelling truly is a huge part of everyone’s culture, fictional or otherwise. And the importance of words! The Name of the Wind shows that there is truly a power behind the name of something, and that there is magic in understanding. Also, the world building is AMAZING; the story’s intense, and just about every character in this book could have a successful (spinoff) book.

What’s really amazing is that 672 pages later, I can say that I’ve read a fantastic book, but I still don’t understand how Kvothe turned into the man Kote. He lived a lot of life in the story within the story of The Name of the Wind, but it’s barely just the tip of the iceberg.

Extra Love –
- The University he attends: It’s like Hogwarts in the real world.
- Speaking of words, Patrick Rothfuss really knows how to use them:

A Silence of Three Parts

It was night again. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.

The most obvious part was a hollow, echoing quiet, made by things that were lacking. If there had been a wind it would have sighed through the trees, set the inn’s sign creaking on its hooks, and brushed the silence down the road like trailing autumns leaves. If there had been a crowd, even a handful of men inside the inn, they would have filled the silence with conversation and laughter, the clatter and clamour one expects from a drinking house during the dark hours of night. If there had been music… but no of course there was no music. In fact there were none of these things, and so the silence remained.

Inside the Waystone a pair of men huddled at one corner of the bar. They drank with quiet determination, avoiding serious discussions of troubling news. In doing this they added a small, sullen silence to the larger, hollow one. It made an alloy of sorts, a counterpoint.

The third silence was not an easy thing to notice. If you listened for an hour, you might begin to feel it in the wooden floor underfoot and in the rough, splintering barrels behind the bar. It was in the weight of the black stone hearth that held the heat of a long-dead fire. It was in the slow back and forth of a white linen cloth rubbing along the grain of the bar. And it was in the hands of the man who stood there, polishing a stretch of mahogany that already gleamed in the lamplight.
The man had true-red hair, red as flame. His eyes were dark and distant, and he moved with the subtle certainty that comes from knowing many things. They Waystone was his, just as the third silence was his. This was appropriate as it was the greatest silence of the three, wrapping the others inside itself. It was deep and wide as autumn’s ending. It was heavy as a great river-smooth stone. It was the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die.

Monday, January 13, 2014

2013 Highlights

2013 was a busy year for me, to say the least.  I decided to leave all my friends and family to pursue my dreams of becoming a screenwriter in California, all before graduating from college. That happened this February. Almost a year later and I'm still nearly 2,500 miles away from home. I mean, you can basically draw a straight line from California to my state, on the other end of the map! This whole terrifying, amazing process of moving started in 2012, happened in 2013, and I don't know what to say about 2014 yet. I guess we'll have to see.

Needless to say, Readingcoma and therefore reading in general had to take a backseat to the rest of my life. I've missed it dearly over these last 1 1/2- 2 years. It's frightening to momentarily (because years are going by really fast now) live a life where reading is nearly excluded. Where writing down my feelings is practically a thing of the past. Which is ironic since my main goal is to become a screenwriter. And of course like most have heard, if you want to write, you need to write, and read. But those were the very things I was being kept from.

Nevertheless, I'm grateful for all the opportunities I gained in the last couple of years. I just hope 2014 won't be another year I neglect Readingcoma, because it feels oddly enough like I'm neglecting myself. I have no real (new years resolution) plans for 2014 other than to try harder regarding the aspects of my life I'm passionate about. Seeing how this blog is one of them, I hope you'll be seeing more of me.

And 2013 wasn't totally void of books. I still read more than what most people my age read in a few years (which is really sad). Out of those books, four stayed heavily on my mind, from their boldness and haunting words, to their tragically poetic stories and real life problems and therefore pure moments of joy. I'm not going to go in depth about them, but I will link my reviews to this post for three of them. I'm shocked to see that I never did a review for Ask the Passengers, which is so good I've decided to read it again so I can do the review justice. Either way, through my real life journeys this year, these were some of the books that kept me company.

The Sky is Everywhere
Jellicoe Road
Eleanor & Park
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