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Monday, August 14, 2017

a wall, a telescope, + spray paint // going over by beth kephart #bookreview

People who hide don't want to be found, Omi says. But Savas is just a little boy, and maybe hiding is not what Savas wants, and maybe what happens next will be my fault: I shouldn't have let him vanish. And maybe, also, I should confess to this: Mailing a word like now across the border wasn't exactly Stasi smart. - Going Over by Beth Kephart

My first thought when I bought Going Over: So it's like Romeo and Juliet in 1980s Berlin. I expected the romance to be tacky  and hoped for the beautiful writing style I'd loved in another of Beth Kephart's novels, One Thing Stolen, to save the story. I didn't expect the setting and mood to be so authentically German/Russian and I clearly didn't expect the love story to be both a whisper in the background and an important piece of the backbone of a novel about courage and trust and vibrantly clashing worlds within a history that's only really barely a generation old. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

sometimes i read and i don't feel a thing

(photo by me.)

(Also entitled: ideas for getting out of a reading slump [when books have let you down] or a book hangover [when books have heightened your expectations way too much]. Maybe it's for the times when your brain is too crowded with important life stuff and reading feels like a job instead of escaping, too.)

The thing is I read mainly because I want to feel things. I want to feel sad, happy, confused, mad, hopeful, whatever the story makes me feel. I want to get excited about amazing writing. Emotional reading (if that's even what you call it) should be a given, yeah? Except that's not how the world works, so I have a list which I made last time (actually recently) I felt meh about every novel I picked up. It's:

a small list of the kinds of books to try reading when you don't really feel like reading
(and maybe [hopefully] at least one of them will make you feel excited about reading once more)
X Re-read a favourite book. Either the best book you read in 2016 or you own childhood classic. The point is you're reading something you know you'll love, even if you already know the story inside out. Your faith in great literature will be restored. Also, reading a favourite book is like a hug, really. (i.e. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery, The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock) 
O Read the sequel to a book you really liked. This is like a welcome home party where you snuggle up in bed with tea or lie on the grass trying not get eaten by mosquitoes; take it fast or slow. There's less pressure on you to learn about a whole new world and cast of characters, and, I think, you already trust the author to deliver a wonderful story. (i.e. Gemina by Amie Kaufman + Jay Kristoff, Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson) 
X Ask a friend or family member or bookshop owner or librarian for a recommendation. (Ask anyone really.) Sometimes deciding on your next book is too much, so why not take a chance on someone else's ideas? Especially if they know you well, they'll know the kinds of books you like to read or they'll help you discover something new. Also, you can discuss the book when you've finished which can be great fun (depending how opinionated you are). (i.e. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkein)
O Read a biography/memoir/autobiography about or by someone who interests you. The few times I've read biographical books I found them to be quite rewarding. Although it might be hard to get through, at the end, you can feel knowledgeable or inspired or proud. Learning, people, is always a good idea. Also, real people's lives can crazily be as interesting as fiction. (i.e. Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature by Linda Lear)
So tell me this: do you ever feel down about reading and what helps you get the happiness back?

Saturday, June 10, 2017

we'll polka for the folk along the parapets

just a small string of thoughts if you care to join this trip through the present state of my mind. a state which includes the Little Women musical soundtrack, hence this post's title. also, if recent Pinterest activity doesn't show one what's going on in another's head, what does? :)

Shout-out to authors who create the worlds and stories for which I could really, truly leave reality. Since I started working full-time, reading has been way more of a  here-and-there, lunch-break, chapter-before-bed kind of thing, so I feel like I'm appreciating novels that engage, fascinate and inspire in a whole new way. I'm loving worlds that can just as easily pull me inside for ten minutes and make me hate myself for leaving as they can satisfy me for hours on end. I'm loving whimsical fantasy, intertwined with history, and not completely serious characters. In particular, I'm loving The Colours of Madeleine series by Jaclyn Moriarty.
- - -
Like four and a half months into working at the library (time flies, seriously), my two favourites about all of that are: 1) The fact that books (from State Library and other libraries we're connected to) arrive almost everyday in the mail. It's like trading because we send books back everyday, too, but it's also a bit like Christmas most mornings. 2) There are little display shelves at the end of sets of regular shelves for showing off books from that particular section. Choosing and changing the books on those display shelves is the best fun. Especially in March when we changed all of them to green for St Pat's Day. Especially the YA section's display, which I've sort of adopted responsibility for. They were rainbow a few weeks ago; now they're all red covers. If I can round up enough yellow-covered YA fictions, that'll be next.
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Right now it's nearing four in the afternoon and my toes sticking out from too-long jeans feel like ice cubes. Last night we had a small fire in the backyard and roasted marshmallows and cheerios. Tomorrow I plan to edit two more chapters of my WIP and possibly buy some books (as a reward, of course). I'm currently reading Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, my first ever venture into steampunk and it's glorious.

What's going on in your life? What did you last pin on Pinterest? What're you currently reading?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

one of my favourite places // the library lovers book tag

hello people! 

This week I'm doing a tag I found through Google and on Amber's blog. The tag is all about libraries, which makes my heart happy for two reasons: 1) libraries mean books that you get to keep for four weeks and pretend they're your own and also places filled with books which honestly is really calming (anyone else find book calming?) + 2) I don't know if I've said this before, but I actually started working at my local library this year which is all kinds of freaking out amazingness. Three and a half months in, I still get excited about every day of work, though there is hard work involved. But it's one of my favourite places and I'm grateful to work there with some pretty cool people. Anyways, onward to the tag (to which I added a final bonus question which I hope is allowed?) ...

photo by me who doesn't own a great phone and is still figuring out the art of self-timer photos. but, you know, at least, I didn't drop the books.

T H E  L I B R A R Y  L O V E R S  B O O K  T A G

How often do you visit your local library? // To work, five days a week, haha. If I wasn't working there, it'd be once a fortnight, I think.
Are you the type of person who checks out more books than you know you can read or are you someone who only checks out the exact amount of books you intend on reading before they are due? // Um, I basically always borrow too many books, then stress that I'm not going to finish them, then renew the loan period, then still don't read them all, so two weeks or a year later, I'll re-borrow the same book. *sigh* It's a downward spiral, I know, but there are so many lovely-looking books. Also, I reserve a lot of books on my library's online catalogue, then they all arrive at the same time (which, you know is completely out of my control).

Sunday, May 07, 2017

what i read // april mini reviews

True story: I wrote the title of this post as March Mini Reviews and it took me a full ten minutes to realise it's April. It's nearing the end of April?! What on earth. How dare the time go so fast.

Anyhow, this month I did a bit of reading. By a bit I mean four books which is becoming the new normal in the crazy world of working and editing and driving lessons. But they were all quite enjoyable, so that makes up for it. ;)

Cress by Marissa Meyer // This is the third book in the completely awesome fairy-tale retelling, sci-fi/fantasy series that is The Lunar Chronicles, and my firm favourite so far. I feel a little anxious because all throughout Cress it's like we're heading for the climax of the series plot, but it was half the excitement for me, too. Cinder, Kai, Scarlet, Wolf, and Thorne's (the main characters from the first two books) perspectives continue alongside that of Cress, an experience hacker and Lunar shell trapped in a satellite by the evil Lunar thaumaturge, Sybil. OH MY GOODNESS. So many feelings!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

on bookshops

Eligiendo lecturas en la librería (ilustración de Arthur Getz):
Artist: Arthur Getz
Last fortnight, I went op-shopping with my sister and some friends. Our last stop (after morning tea) was to the only dedicated bookshop in town: a mixture of new and pre-loved and old cultural books and Penguin classics. Inside, it smells of dusty ink and paper. As much as I like visiting there, I often don't buy simply because I find it hard to find books that pique my interest and I'm kind of poor, but this time there were two poetry books (Sylvia Plath and Robert Frost) and Dragonrider by Cornelia Funke (I've been meaning to read Inkheart for forever, which is a good enough reason for getting that one). So I bought those, and my friend bought a book, and, as we were leaving, I noticed a for sale sign in the window. If I could, I'd buy that bookshop on the side of the arcade across from the café. I wonder, a little sadly, what will happen to it.

Yesterday, I learned two of the bigger bookshops in our nearest city had closed. Bookshops I had insisted on visiting whenever we were there for appointments or clothes shopping. Now they're gone, and economically I

Sunday, March 26, 2017

beautiful people // jo brightly + rob waterbury

photo credit: me + my mother's glitter supply

Beautiful People (hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury + Skye @ Further Up and Further In) posts are some of my favourite to write. I'm typing this intro quickly before work (but at the time of actually posting this it's not work time) so without further ado, here's March's edition which I've split in two because both these characters won't stay out of my head. First we have Jo Brightly from Silly, Honest, Kind, a fun novel about family and moving across the country and running a café and playing sports. Secondly: Rob Waterbury, one of the main characters from an epistolary-style retelling of The Railway Children and The Secret Garden ...
jo brightly

What’s their favorite book/movie/play/etc.? // Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty became her favourite novel the first time she read it because it's quirky, simple and written in letters. Notting Hill is her favourite movie like (and she knows this reasoning is sappy) it was her mum's. She's not really a theatre person, not for lack of her grandfather's trying to make her one.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

flowers in the sink

after a week of adulting and not much sleep and summer weather daring to continue in autumn and loving epistolary novels to pieces, I wrote something this afternoon:


She's left flowers in the kitchen sink again. There are tulips and roses and snapdragons, like Mrs Tumbler grows. You don't think she stole them from Mrs Tumbler, do you? Heavens, I hope not. But, in my mind, I can see her at dawn plucking and piecing together enough bouquets to fill every vase in the house. She's a worry. An absolute worry. Which is why you must come home. Please come home.


Friday, March 10, 2017

birthdays, chocolate, + cardigans // autumn reading list

 Oh, hi! I, the phantom-creature who runs this blog and underestimated how tiresome yet wonderful adulting would be, is back! So my summer was incredibly hot with not enough rain (if you live in the tropics, you'll understand, haha) and also involved going to my first official job interview, getting said job (A TRAINEESHIP AT THE LIBRARY! I'M SCREAMING!), starting said job (STILL SCREAMING!). Then there was Christmas, Boxing Day (aka reading Christmas gift books day), a surprise two-week visit from my best friend (we decorated pineapples, took way too many photos, and went for lots of walks), and drafting-turned-editing (which is scary, but fun, and mentally draining, but enjoyable, and I know I'm a bundle of contradictions). After procrastinating and rearranging like there was no tomorrow, I finally settled on a happy arrangement for my bookshelf (as you can see on the above photo), too.
AND reading. How could I not mention reading? Remember that summer reading list I made at the end of last year? I read 5/10 books, with which I'm quite happy. And, because I enjoy lists and plans (even if there's a tad too grand) and organising, I've made a new reading list for autumn ...
A U T U M N   R E A D I N G    L I S T  / /  2 0 1 7 
(This'll be my first Stephanie Morrill, one of the brilliant people behind Go Teen Writers!, novel and easily the one I'm most excited for because 1920s, yes? I picked up Burning Bright for a dollar at my library's book sale and it's about William Blake, who I remember from senior English. I saw Sword at Sunset's beautiful hardcover at the library and I've heard some great things about her writing, so excited!)

(I enjoyed both the first books in The Lunar Chronicles, so I'm quite interested to see how Marissa Meyer retells Rapunzel and to continue the stories of Cinder and Scarlet and Thorne and Kai. A Small Free Kiss in the Dark is also a library sale book, but it's by an Aussie author and has a beautiful cover so I can't wait to read it. Stars is a Peter Pan retelling and I just really, really, really want to read a Peter Pan retelling. : P)
(Both The Someday Birds and Braced are middle grade 2017 releases that I've mentioned here before and can't wait to read! Invincible is the sequel to Invisible which I read a couple of years ago and quite enjoyed; I'm reading it in preparation for the third book releasing sometime this year.)

(This one has its own story attached: it's originally a German childrens book my mum loved when she was growing up and recently she found its English translation secondhand. A yellow hardback published over 50 years ago which I am in love with already.)

Do you like seasonal reading lists? What's autumn like in your part of the world? And have you read any of these books? 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

letters to authors // 02

You can read the original post //here//.
from unsplash.com
To Anne Elisabeth Stengl: Thank you for a return to the magical world of Goldstone Wood in Starflower. After three books whose timelines intertwined so intricately, I admit I wondered where exactly the story could go next and whether I could love it as much; thank you for introducing me to new characters and letting me see old ones through different eyes. Honestly, I hope you never run out of stories for this world. I will always take more cat-men, fairy fables, dragons, and enchantments. From me. xo

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

beautiful people // sandy + annemarie

Today is a strange day because I'm letting the slightly romantic side of me take over and link up with this month's Beautiful People, a meme hosted by Sky @ Further Up + Further In + Cait @ Paper Fury. It's a character-interview/questionnaire-type-thing, only this month there're two characters (aka a couple). So let me introduce you to Sandy Dunmore + Annemarie Bauer, the only couple in my current novel, I Wished for Wings ...

via Pinterest

beautiful people february 2017 // sandy + Annemarie

How and why did they meet? // Sandy, then in Year 10, was doing homework with Annemarie's older brother. Annemarie, in Year 8, questioned the logic behind their argumentative essays.

Monday, January 23, 2017

i'm excited for small people with big worlds // 2017 middle grade releases

(images from Goodreads)
There's something about amazing fiction that makes my heart happy. Amazing middle grade fiction makes my heart even happier. On one hand it's all homey and sweet and family-filled, but it also has this weird ability to tackle big issues in an innocent caring way.

When I was younger (in the middle grade target audience) I didn't read a lot of it beyond Ann M. Martin, Nancy Rue, and Jennifer L. Holm, so I kinda feel like I'm making up for lost time here. Authors like Rebecca Stead, Cecily Anne Paterson, and Karen Foxlee, I wish I had discovered earlier or had published books back then. But, you know, at least I get to read them now. Unashamedly, in fact.

Once I started looking around, I discovered a bunch of interesting-sounding middle grade novels being released this year. I AM SO EXCITED! And I hope I can read as many of these as possible.

Here's a (somewhat long) list with Goodreads links and release months and my excitement where necessary, divided into genre (of course):

X Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson (January) // This sounds a bit like To Kill a Mockingbird with the whole trial thing, but I'm keen to hear it from an African-American viewpoint.

Monday, January 16, 2017

note to self // on process

Dear me:

You know what's equal parts confusing and exciting? Beyond communicating a good (and by good I mean whatever it is you imagine it should be) story, there are, like, no concrete rules for writing. You know what's sad? When the confusing part takes over. When you make up a bunch of rules for no reason. When you convince yourself you have to have a process like everyone else. You end up closing yourself in.

The thing is that when you write, you have to be the most vulnerable, authentic, individual version of yourself. People (other writers, your parents, etc) can teach you the tools, set an example, give bucketfuls of advice, inspire you with their overflowing minds, but the very essence of writing and how it works for you, you kind of have to figure out alone. It's a bit like stumbling around in the dark, to be honest. You might try lots of different things or just think a lot. When you find the light it'll be about what works for you to tell the best story you possibly can. (That's the definition of process we're sticking with for now.)

You know what else? Process changes. Try to shush the part of you that likes things unmessy and is currently sighing, so you can focus on the beauty of all this. You cannot be inflexible if you want to be growing. Because you're exploring and stretching out your fingers to touch something strange, you can't sit still for too long.

Please do not be afraid of change or of taking the time to figure out something new. Find what works best for you; then write like you're running out of time. Remember why you're writing in the first place.


Friday, January 06, 2017

friendship groups + polaroids // a little friendly advice by siobhan vivian #bookreview

I never want to be stuck in the limbo of non-decision again. It's like torturing yourself on purpose. - A Little Friendly Advice by Siobhan Vivian
A Little Friendly Advice by Siobhan Vivian was basically the only thing in my mind for three hours past bedtime. I felt pretty cool about finishing it in one sitting despite the fact that it's a fairly short novel (around 250 pages) and set during a short timespan (a couple of weeks). From the blurb, which introduced us to emotionally damaged sixteen-year-old Ruby, her friendship group of four very different girls, and the cracks appearing at the corners of Ruby's already fragile world, I thought it was bound to be great. (I have a soft spot for friendship stories, especially those that promise flawed characters.) And yes, there were polaroids and buttons and a cute romantic subplot, so it was okay. It deals with issues most, if not all, teenage girls face, so brownie points for that. Not my favourite of all time, but still a sweet, short read.
In no particular order here's what I like best about A Little Friendly Advice: 1) Ruby, Ruby, Ruby! - the dear girl. She's had a messy childhood with her parent's divorce and then her dad shows up on her sixteenth birthday and her friends (one in particular) turn out not the be the nicest, so I felt pretty bad for her. And yes, she is kinda the cliché quiet, op-shop jeans and t-shirt, awkward, average girl, but I love that she comes out of all the difficulties stronger and faces up to her past and makes decisions without changing who she is; 2) the friendship rocks! There're four girls - Ruby, Beth (her best friend since forever who's loyal and protective of Ruby), Maria (who's the edgy, world-wise, frequently-changing-boyfriends one), and Katherine (who Beth adopted into the group and the one who they don't know so much about). Their differences and also their willingness to help each other out are emphasised. They have good hearts, even if they do make mistakes sometimes *cough* Beth. *cough*; 3) how the polaroids link parts of the story together. Siobhan Vivian really used them to their full potential. I love how well they're described and, in the end when it all comes together, I smiled at the continuity; 4) how the flashbacks worked out. I took a bit to figure out if I liked it or not, but in the end they worked well. They helped me understand Ruby's personality and the backstories of other characters. Because they were triggered by events in the storyline, they felt natural, too; 5) I'm not the world's greatest romance fan, but I have to admit Ruby and Charlie's relationship was pretty cute. Apart from kissing, they acted like normal friends, and there was a plot twist adding dimension to the relationship. I felt sorry for Charlie, though; he, like Ruby, deserved a better home life.
And, now, unfortunately, a couple of things that made me twitch (or squint, or something like that): 1) Ruby's parents. They just had so many issues and were dishonest and stuff. I disliked them so much. (Maybe I was meant to?) But they were also portrayed as people Ruby should trust and who loved her so I don't know what to feel?! 2) the conflicts. They wrapped up too quickly for my liking. Like, the whole lying and cheating and stuff was hardly talked about?! (Especially the whole situation with that one friend of Ruby's.) If the novel had been longer, they would've been opportunity for better conclusions all around, I feel. Open endings done well are amazing, but this one didn't do it for me. Even so, while reading the actual last scene, I found myself smiling like Ruby was.
My rating of A Little Friendly Advice by Siobhan Vivian is 3.5 out of 5 stars. I recommend it if you want a short read or are a fan of friendships, Polaroids, buttons, and emotionally scarred characters. If, in the rest of her books, Siobhan Vivian's characters are interestingly flawed and plots are sweetly quirky, I wouldn't mind reading them.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

what i read // 2016 favourites

via Pinterest

I really hope the whole season/summer has been a great time for you. I also hope you've got lots of books to keep you company or you were given some for Christmas. My perfect Boxing Day will always involve books, to be honest. : )

I didn't quite reach my Goodreads 2016 reading challenge. I was, like, five books short of it, which is sad, but this post isn't really about that. It's about celebrating all the awesome books I did read in 2016, and, you know what? I read some pretty great books. I ventured outside of my historical and middle-grade fiction comfort zone of which I'm super proud, haha.

Because lists are the best and help me make sense of everything, I've made one of my favourite books read in 2016. Yes, it's in somewhat of an order, and, yes, there are Goodreads links. But there won't be, like, proper reviews or anything, only a brief premise/blurb, some comparative titles and why I loved it or you might like to read it.