Archive | June, 2013

What I’m Reading

14 Jun

Doing a lot of reading (and occasionally forgetting to take pictures) and restarted updating my dormant Goodreads account–If you’re on Goodreads let’s be friends!

Also getting caught up-to-speed on the YA book/publishing world thanks to super-responsive, friendly folks on Twitter (authors do an AMAZING job of being engaged!) and blogs like The Midnight Garden and Jenna Does Books. I’m daydreaming about being a part of this publishing world but that world is unfortunately headquartered in New York (or London).

That being said… thank goodness for the internet 🙂

  • DELIRIUM (Amazon) / PANDEMONIUM (Amazon) / REQUIEM (Amazon) (Lauren Oliver) – My kindred-book-spirit S recommended a handful of books and the Delirium series was one of them. Straightforward dystopian/sci-fi/romance YA series where the premise is that the society basically outlaws and out-sciences true love (because it causes so many problems, natch). Easy, fun reads and I always appreciate discovering a new series as it’s ending so I’m not waiting around for the final resolution (REQUIEM was published in March of this year).

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  • DREAMLAND (Amazon) / ALONG FOR THE RIDE (Amazon) / KEEPING THE MOON (Amazon) (Sarah Dessen) – I had thought I had read all of Sarah Dessen’s books… but I must have been wrong! DREAMLAND is one of her older, and definitely heaviest works, a bit of a heartbreaker. ALONG FOR THE RIDE & KEEPING THE MOON were both great — not sequels in any way, but both set in summers in Colby, a town I’m now realizing Dessen often uses as a setting for her novels. I also (finally) realized that she regularly has characters from previous works pop in and out in little cameos as an act of fanservice (wee!). It does also make me want to go back and read some of the ones I’ve read to figure out how the different characters intertwine (or I could look on Wikipedia, I guess, but that’s way less fun).
  • THE KILL ORDER (Amazon) (James Dashner) – Forced myself to read the prequel to THE MAZE RUNNER series and it was stimulating, but… disappointing. It talks about the actual characters from the series very little and I think I read it more because I have this strange expectation of myself where I really need to finish books and/or entire series. I need to remind myself that there are too many good books to waste time on books I don’t love!
  • THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX (Amazon) / THE FOX INHERITANCE (Amazon) (Mary E. Pearson) – I saw quite a few authors/lists mention AOJF as one of the first books in the genre and inspirational for many, so figured it was an appropriate read. It was definitely different in some of the narrative structure (is that the right word…) and heavy on the sci-fi, but I wasn’t as engaged. Read the sequel because of my aforementioned self-induced pressure to read sequels, but will possibly skip on book 3 (FOX FOREVER).
  • SHADOW & BONE (Amazon) / SIEGE & STORM (Amazon) (Leigh Bardugo) – And for a breath of fresh air — I loved the first two books of the Grisha Trilogy, which I will officially call one of my favorite fantasy series of the year. SO GOOD. I devoured Book 1, ran to Barnes & Noble to read the second (because I couldn’t wait for it to make its way through my library queue), then re-read Book 1. I’ve really only re-read two books since I’ve re-started my fervent book reading, ELEANOR & PARK and now, SHADOW & BONE. Maybe I have a thing for ampersands…

    Anyway, back to the Grisha Trilogy–think, GAME OF THRONES for the YA world plus a healthy dose of magic, set in a world inspired by Russia, with fewer characters and a female protaganist with some romance mixed in. So good. Dug through blogs and Twitter to find this two-part interview with the author Leigh (pronounced Lee) (Part One, Part Two)  and another short Goodreads interview with Leigh Bardugo.

I have a few more to post, but this is getting long enough. Til next time!

The Voice – Top 6

5 Jun

It’s weird to watch an episode of The Voice and not be anticipating what craziness Judith Hill will pull off… or what interesting vocal twists and turns Sarah Simmons will perform. I miss them.

But the show must go on, eh?

It does feel like The Country Voice now, with even Sasha freaking Allen singing country. Her other song, though, was Aretha. And it was Good. And it was a nice respite from all the country.

While Holly Tucker and Amber Carrington are clearly strong vocalists and do really well, I just can’t find anything SPECIAL about them to draw me in. If anything, it feels like they’re going after what makes Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson so great, but the world already has a Carrie Underwood and we already have a Kelly Clarkson!

Danielle Bradbery, on the other hand… I loved her second song! That ending was fannnntastic. The favorite to win, right?

And Michelle Chamuel, somehow you have charmed the ears off of America and we LOVE you. It is so strange. Somehow your quirkiness and genuine nervousness in the first few episodes has been replaced by a quiet determination and confidence that allows you to sing Taylor Swift with a straight face (I love Taylor but I can’t hear this song without hearing goats anymore).

I’m also impressed (again) by Usher and the strings he can pull. I can’t wait until we get a Bieber appearance! But wait. He’s not having the best PR of his life so mayyyybe not.

And okay fine, the Swon Brothers. I can’t believe they’re still here! I will say that they seem like fun guys, based on the little tidbits you see in interviews and videos… but, still, I’m picking them as most likely to get eliminated. And since I haven’t watched tonight’s episode… that’ll be my theory for now.

What I’m Reading

5 Jun

It’s that time again! Still on a roll with these YA books and thanks to my dear friend S‘ recommendations, I still have quite a ways to go before I exhaust the genre.

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  • Cinder (Amazon) / Scarlet (Amazon) (Marissa Meyer) – Okay, officially my favorite YA series right now — “The Lunar Chronicles”! Despite having really enjoyed a lot of the books/series I’ve been reading… I really do think Cinder and Scarlet top that list. I love the twist of the fairy tale inserted into a somewhat dystopian futuristic world and I love that she introduces a different character with each novel and somehow twist their stories together. I do NOT love the fact that Book 3 (Cress) isn’t coming out until next Spring but… I mean, what else am I going to do? And Book 4? 2015. Seriously. Ugh.
  • Legend (Amazon – not pictured, whoops!) / Prodigy (Amazon) (Marie Lu) – A great couple books from an Asian (!) writer — dystopian future, supposedly Les Mis inspired (but I didn’t really see it). Fun! I like that they actually take place in the USA (but obviously in the future) and she gives a really well thought-out backstory as to why the world became the way it was. No official news of the Book 3 yet, but I’m sure it’s coming!

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  • Gathering Blue (Amazon) / The Messenger (Amazon) (Lois Lowry) – Somehow, I confused myself into reading Son first (which is actually Book #4), then read The Messenger (uh, Book #3), then read Gathering Blue (Book #2). Whoops. It was a little strange reading the future storylines and plotpoints and then reading back and reading the history of how things got to that point… but… moving on. Everything I mentioned about Lois Lowry stands true — I love that she writes with patience and deliberately. She’s not writing in a way to give you candy and make a movie–she’s writing very intentionally and it’s a breath of fresh air. It says a lot that a lot of these other dystopian YA fiction authors always mention Lois Lowry and The Giver in their “who inspires you?” FAQ. The OG.
  • The Fault in Our Stars (Amazon) (John Green) – I hate to say it, but I was disappointed. The hullablaoo around this book on Amazon made me prepared to sit down with my stack of post-its and tissues but… you know what? It was just too literary for me. When I read the (very lengthy) Q&A posted on John Green’s website, I realized he wrote a book that could be legitimately dissected and discussed in high school English classrooms with foreshadowing, metaphors, symbolism, etc. And not to say I dislike all those things in it of themselves… but… for some reason, it didn’t click. But don’t mind me — Time magazine and the editors at Amazon both gave it super high recognition so you might like it, anyway!
  • The Scorch Trials (Amazon) / The Death Cure (Amazon) (James Dashner) – Finally picked up the next two books in The Maze Runner series and while I didn’t necessarily find myself dying to read them, I flew through them–like, read them both in a night. They’re super tense and action-packed, with less emotion/romance/etc but a lot more suspense. I’m still not exactly sure if I liked the ending — (SPOILER ALERT) — I honestly had so much wariness of “is this real?” “is that real?” “this must be a trap…” “oh wait, there’s only x# pages left, it must be real!” that I couldn’t really enjoy the finale. And it wasn’t quite good enough where it warrants a second read though I think it’d be a lot clearer who’s doing what if I did read it again.

Phew! What are YOU reading??

What Happened in May 2013

1 Jun
  • New Years Resolutions Update: This wasn’t the best month for resolutions. I read a lot, but didn’t finish the original books I had designated for this month (Good to Great and Omnivore’s Dilemma). Made tasty roasted broccoli (simple, but new to us) and this tangy Detoxinista Asian-style cabbage slaw. I’ve been really bad at Yelping. My “to review” bookmarks are out of control. Here’s to a new month?
  • Thanks to Yelp, got a couple free tickets to The Royale at the Kirk Douglas Theater so B and I made it a date night with dinner at one of the newish restaurants in downtown Culver City then walked over to the show. It was something, that’s for sure. A little cliched in the storyline but I liked experiencing and doing something new.
  • Summer movie season officially began with Iron Man 3. How many of these Marvel movies do you think Disney can pump out over the next few years? There has to be an end, right? And for the record, I like Gwyneth. She has mysteriously attracted a lot of haters over the years, but I like her. So there. Followed by Star Trek: Into the Darkness — was pleased by how they handled marketing without giving away real plot points (kudos, Hollywood!) but aside from the awesome Benedict Cumberbatch, felt like the story lacked a lot of oomph.
  • Summer concerts began with Sara B at the El Rey with G! My first concert in who knows how long–and it was so good. Followed by Daughter at the Troubadour, which was a very different experience, but a fun girls outing with GC, and M.
  • Babysat for friends so they could go see Iron Man 3 (and they were disappointed! boo)
  • (Almost) monthly date with J at Olympic Chungookjang – one of her regular spots that I’ve never been to! Love talking with this girl about work, church, family, the future, stupid things, music, media…
  • Reading a lot of YA fiction (see previous blog post) and fell deeply in love with Eleanor & Park
  • As most holidays are for us–lots and lots of meals for mother’s day. Morangak with my mom’s side, O Fine sushi with my dad’s, then Brasserie Pascal with the in-laws. Lots of love for mamas!
  • Then, celebrated my dad’s & stepsister S’s birthdays at Lunar in Irvine – jjajjangmyun!
  • Busy at church too — Planning Team is growing, and had our first “real” CM meeting at a park in Irvine — beautiful weather, sweet people.
  • At aforementioned park, found out there are people who yell at you for how you treat your dog and act all crazylike. Noted.
  • D&A’s beautiful, beautiful wedding at the Brookside Equestrian Center
  • Played a LOT of intense Settlers (Cities & Knights + Seafarer’s) with D&V for three late nights in a row… then again on Memorial Day with some kind of crazy two-combined-sets-modified-version in a group of 8. Seriously, we’re becoming experts!

The weather really feels like summer, and just in time. Here’s to the kicking off the second-half of 2013 already!

Eleanor & Park

1 Jun

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In the midst of all the addicting YA dystopian/fantasy fiction, I had forgotten what reading a hauntingly beautiful, poignantly well-written novel felt like. Eleanor & Park was so good that I read it three times over the course of a week, savoring it, delighting in it, and finally feeling compelled to jot down all of the quotes that made me feel things. Not to mention, it’s the first book I’ve wanted to own and not just read once in a long, long time. Thanks, Amazon, for the book recommendation and for making it so easy to find and buy the books I love.

Eleanor & Park is a story about two misfits — Park, who is half-Korean in the Midwest in the 80s, and Eleanor, a smart, sassy, sarcastic “big girl” with a horrible stepfather. Their friendship and relationship evolves so naturally and I love how the author switches back and forth between their two perspectives to give you a sense of how they think. I love Park’s parents — Jamie, his “typical” big and strong veteran father, and Mindy, his immigrant wife that he met while serving abroad. The feel like real people and their relationship is real, but inspiring at the same time.

It’s just such a good, good, GOOD story — and John Green’s review in the NY Times is only one example of the heaps of praise it has received. Super recommend.

Disclaimer: Rainbow Rowell, the author, uses some graphic language but it’s done realistically. Her use of language is clearly intentional and meant to paint a more real picture of Omaha life on that side of the tracks and it often stirs up (what feels like) righteous outrage at some of the things going on… not to mention, people really do talk like that in high school, even in the clean and polished southern part of Orange County I grew up in.

Documenting my favorite lines below — would recommend you not read them until you’ve read E&P as they can be spoiler-y, but because this is my blog and I’m writing them down for me… you can just scroll on through. Warning–longest post ever.

  • “Eleanor looked a lot like her. But not enough… At sixteen, Eleanor was already built like she ran a medieval pub.” (18)
  • “It made sense that Tina was in Eleanor’s gym class–because gym was an extension of hell, and Tina was definitely a demon.” (23)
  • “[English teacher] ‘Tell us, why has Romeo and Juliet survived four hundred years?’
    ‘Because… because people want to remember what it’s like to be young? And in love?'” (45)
  • “It was bad enough that, thanks to Richie’s influence, she went around mentally calling everyone she meant a ‘motherfucker.’ (Irony.)” (53)
  • “He emptied all his handheld video games and Josh’s remote control cars, and called his grandma to tell her that all he wanted for his birthday in November was AA batteries.” (60)
  • “DeNice and the other girl, the big girl, Beebi, talked to Eleanor now in gym. (Because being assaulted with maxi pads is a great way to win friends and influence people.)” (61)
  • “If someone had been watching, what would they have seen? Park couldn’t imagine what his face had looked like… Like somebody taking the first drink in a Diet Pepsi commercial. Over-the-top bliss.” (73)
  • “Saturdays were the worst.” (75, 79)
  • “Mondays were the best.” (80)
  • “Dimples on top of freckles, which shouldn’t even be allowed… It was kind of amazing that more people didn’t try to pinch her cheeks. His grandma was definitely going to pinch her when they met.” (90)
  • “Sometimes it seemed like she would never be able to give Park anything like what he’d given her…
    She couldn’t repay him. She couldn’t even appropriately thank him. How can you thank someone for the Cure? Or the X-Men? Sometimes it felt like she’d always be in his debt.
    And then she realized that Park didn’t know about the Beatles.” (99)
  • “‘You heard your mother,’ their dad said. ‘You don’t get to talk like that in this house.’
    ‘You talk like that,’ Josh said, dragging himself off the couch.
    ‘I’m thirty-nine years old,’ their dad said, ‘and a decorated veteran. I’ll say whatever the hell I want.’
    Their mother jabbed a long fingernail at his dad and covered the phone again, ‘I’ll send you to your room, too.’
    ‘Honey, I wish you would,” their dad said, throwing a throw pillow at her.” (102)
  • “Park’s mom made Eleanor feel like a giant… If you were an alien who came to Earth to study its life forms, you wouldn’t even think the two of them were the same species… When Eleanor was around girls like that… she wondered where they put their organs. Like, how could you have a stomach and intestines and kidneys, and still wear such tiny jeans?” (126)
  • “‘Embarrassing me?’ she said. ‘Or embarrassing you?’
    He looked back at her, stricken. And she knew again that she was right. Damn it. Why did he keep letting her be right about all this crappy stuff?” (130)
  • “Park’s mom was so mad, she wouldn’t come get him. She called his dad at work. When his dad showed up, the principal thought he was Steve’s dad.
    ‘Actually,’ his dad said, pointing at Park, ‘that one’s mine.'” (133)
  • “Whenever her mom found money, she tried to spend it on things Richie would never notice… Her mom had become some kind of genius double agent since she hooked up with Richie. It was like she was keeping them all alive behind his back.” (138)
  • “She saw him after seventh hour in a place she’d never seen him before, carrying a microscope down the hall on the third floor. It was at least twice as nice as seeing him somewhere she expected him to be.” (160)
  • “It was good that she was so nervous–because it forced him not to be. It steadied him to feel her trembling.” (167)
  • “Going with Tina was such powerful social currency, Park was still spending it.” (177)
  • “He’d thought he was over caring what people thought about him. He’d thought that loving Eleanor proved that. But he kept finding new pockets of shallow inside himself. He kept finding new ways to betray her.” (178)
  • “His parents gave him a fifty-dollar gift certificate to Drastic Plastic, the punk rock record store downtown. (Park was surprised that they’d think of that. And he was surprised that DP sold gift certificates. Not very punk.)” (194)
  • “‘Why doesn’t she leave?’
    She shook her head. ‘I don’t think she can… I don’t think there’s enough of her left.'” (196)
  • “Park had used most of his car stereo money to buy the necklace. He’d found it at the jewelry store in the mall where people try on engagement rings.” (202)
  • “Eleanor was twelve, and she couldn’t imagine a guy fucking her mom over worse than her dad had.
    She didn’t know there were things worse than selfish.” (204)
  • “”I know that your stepdad isn’t an easy man to be around… And I’m just saying, you know, that if it’s easier to be over here, then you should just be here. That would make Mindy and me feel a lot better, okay?'” (209)
  • “‘You look like you,’ he said. ‘You with the volume turned up.’
    She looked in the mirror again.
    ‘The thing is,’ Park said. “I’m pretty sure my mom was holding back. I think she thinks this is the natural look'” (216)
  • “‘Go to school, Park,’ his mom said softly. ‘You miss the bus.’
    ‘Mindy…’ his dad said, just barely restraining himself, ‘they’ll tear him apart.’
    ‘You tell me Park all grown up now, almost man, make own decisions. So let him make own decisions. Let him go’
    His dad didn’t say anything; he’d never raise his voice to Park’s mom. Park saw his opportunity and left.” (218)
  • “‘I have a girlfriend now,’ Josh said, ‘can she start coming over?’
    ‘No girlfriend,’ their mom said, ‘too young.’
    ‘I’m almost thirteen!’
    ‘Sure,’ their dad said, ‘your girlfriend can come over. If you’re willing to give up your Nintendo.’
    ‘What?’ Josh was stricken. ‘Why?’
    ‘Because I said so,’ his dad said. ‘Is it a deal?’
    ‘No! No way,’ Josh said. ‘Does Park have to give up Nintendo?’
    ‘Yep. Is that okay with you, Park?’
    ‘Fine.’
    ‘I’m like Billy Jack,’ their dad said, ‘a warrior and a shaman.'” (244)
  • “Their car wasn’t in the driveway, so Eleanor figured Park’s family wasn’t home. They were probably off doing awesome family stuff. Eating lunch at Bonanza and having their portraits taken in matching sweaters.” (247)
  • “‘Did… the way you acted today have something to do with seeing me yesterday?’
    …’Yeah,’ he said quietly.
    Eleanor didn’t say anything for a minute or so. And then…
    ‘Tina would be so pissed.'” (254)
  • “And his dad hadn’t said anything more than “Don’t get anybody pregnant” since he told Park about sex in the fifth grade. (He’d told Josh at the same time, which was insulting.)” (257)
  • “‘Meantime, you have your license if you need it. For emergency.’
    That seemed like a pretty weak excuse to get his license. Park had gone sixteen years without a driving emergency.” (259)
  • “‘Yeah, go,’ [Park’s mom] said. ‘I never get house to myself.’
    She was home all day, every day by herself, but Park decided not to mention it. He and Eleanor stood up cautiously from the couch. Like they were expecting his mom to say April fools! two weeks late.” (266)
  • “Park held her hand the whole night, like he was her boyfriend. Because he is your boyfriend, dummy, she kept telling herself.
    Much to the dismay of the  girl working at the record store. She had eight holes in each ear, and she clearly thought Park was a whole closet full of cat’s pajamas. The girl looked at Eleanor like, Are you kidding me? And Eleanor looked back like, I know, right?” (269)
  • “The Impala might not look pervy on the outside, not like a fully carpeted custom van or something–but the inside was a different story. The front seat was almost as big as Eleanor’s bed, and the backseat was an Erica Jong novel waiting to happen” (273)
  • “This was her mom’s fault.
    If Eleanor were allowed to have normal relationships with boys, she wouldn’t have felt like she had to hit a home run the very first time she ended up in the backseat of a car–she wouldn’t have felt like it might be her only time at bat. (And she wouldn’t be making these stupid baseball metaphors.)” (277)
  • “Maybe she should feel bad about involving him in all this, but she didn’t. He was right: The worst thing that would happen to him (barring some terrible accident) was that he’d be grounded. And being grounded at his house was like winning the Price is Right Showcase compared to what would happen if Eleanor got caught.” (293)
  • “He could have made a run for it, but his dad probably would’ve caught him. He was always bragging about being in the best shape of his life.” (295)
  • “‘Don’t thank me yet. I’ve got one condition.’
    No more eyeliner, Park thought.” (297)
  • “He loved how much they loved each other. It was the thing he thought about when he woke up scared in the middle of the night. Not that they loved him–they were his parents, they had to love him. That they loved each other. They didn’t have to do that.
    None of his friends’ parents were still together, and in every case, that seemed like the number one thing that had gone wrong with his friends’ lives.
    But Park’s parents loved each other. They kissed each other on the mouth, no matter who was watching.
    What were the chances you’d meet someone like that? he wondered. Someone you could love forever, someone who would forever love you back? And what did you do when that person was born half a world away?
    The math seemed impossible. How did his parents get so lucky?” (301)
  • “‘We have to say good-bye anyway,’ she said. ‘Does it matter if it’s now or a few hours from now or tomorrow morning?’
    ‘Are you kidding?’ He looked down at her, hoping he’d miss his turn. ‘Yes.'” (309)

I warned you… #longestpostever