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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