Thoughts from Books (#2)

“Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.”

It’s funny how much your life can change in a matter of a few months, both for better and for worse. The former is quite easy to deal with. For the latter, it is important to realize that change is a natural and necessary part of life; we are always experiencing changes, whether they’re small, like trying out a new hairstyle, or large, like the end of a relationship. The only thing that we can do is move forward with the realization that these changes have led us to become stronger, wiser individuals than we were previously – even if we can’t see it straight away.

Which quotes have resonated with you lately?

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This Month in Books: September 2014

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September is here, which means that fall is finally upon us! I personally cannot wait to curl up in my coziest sweater with hot chocolate and many of these new releases (but most importantly, Heir of Fire). As always, if you’re interested in one of the books, click on its cover image to be taken to its Goodreads page.

September 2

September 9

 

September 16

September 23

September 30

Which new releases are you most looking forward to reading this month?
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Book Review: Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff

An achingly real and profoundly moving love story about two Minnesota teens whose lives become intertwined through school, role-playing games, and a chance two-a.m. bike accident.

It is Labor Day weekend in St. Paul, Minnesota, and boy and girl collide on a dark street at two thirty in the morning: Lesh, who wears black, listens to metal, and plays MMOs; and Svetlana, who embroiders her skirts, listens to Björk and Berlioz, and dungeon masters her own RPG. They should pick themselves up, continue on their way, and never talk to each other again.

But they don’t.

This is a story of two people who do not belong in each other’s lives, who find each other at a time when they desperately need someone who doesn’t belong in their lives. A story of those moments when we act like people we aren’t in order to figure out who we are. A story of the roles we all play—at school, at home, with our friends, and without our friends—and the one person who might show us what lies underneath it all.

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I’m honestly not sure what to make of Guy in Real Life. On one hand, it’s a love story between two teens who couldn’t be more different; on the other, it’s a complex examination of societal paradigms, especially those relating to traditional gender roles.

Guy in Real Life is told from several POVs: not only do we get to hear from our two protagonists, Lesh and Svetlana, but the perspectives of in-game avatars are also present, adding to the uniqueness of the story.

I absolutely loved the way that Guy in Real Life portrayed the gaming world. Dungeons and Dragons gets such a bad reputation in many social circles, but Guy in Real Life did a wonderful job of showing just how much creativity and thought is put into each game. And I was pleasantly surprised by how much of the “gaming lingo” I still understood – it definitely brought back memories of my Runescape playing days!

While the friendship between Lesh and Svetlana was innocent and slow to build, their relationship didn’t feel authentic to me. From the first meeting, which set Svetlana up to be a manic pixie dream girl, Lesh becomes obsessed with her. She’s placed on a pedestal, and is constantly in his thoughts – to the point where he creates an online character in her likeness. That’s not to say that it wasn’t sweet at times, but this borderline-instalove made it difficult for me to fully support them as a couple.

My favourite part of Guy in Real Life, though, is the discussion on societal roles and how hard it can be to find your identity. The roles that we play can either strengthen us or increase our self-doubts, as Lesh shows time and time again. While I may not agree with the way that it was resolved, I definitely liked the message behind it.

Overall, Guy in Real Life was an entertaining read that was so much more than the “slice of life” story that I expected. While it isn’t a book that I could see myself re-reading, I wouldn’t be surprised if it made its way into many other readers’ hearts (and bookshelves).

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hairactually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

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“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”

Daughter of Smoke & Bone is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Every word, every page is infused with magic – both literally, in terms of the storyline, and figuratively, in terms of Laini Taylor’s gorgeous, poetic, quote-worthy writing and breathtaking descriptions of Prague. The layers of mythology were equally impressive: from the creation stories of chimaeras to a reinterpretation of the classic battle between angels and demons/good vs. evil, this story was a breath of fresh air in the YA paranormal genre.

All of the characters in the story, both main players and secondary characters alike, felt incredibly real and I fell in love with each and every one of them. Karou is easily one of my favourite heroines, and I loved her determination and creativity. More than that, though, I identified with her loneliness and her feeling that she is incomplete – that there must be something more to who she is, but she can’t quite grasp what that would be.

My favourite characters, though, were some that received a bit less page time: Brimstone, Karou’s adopted father of sorts, and Zuzana, Karou’s best friend. Brimstone’s quiet but fierce love for Karou was beautiful to read about. Zuzana, the “rabid fairy,” was so much more than a source of dark humour: she was truly an important part of Karou’s life, and their friendship felt deep and true.

While the romance was a bit cliched, it was explained in a way that both made sense and added to the mystery of the story. As a result, it was fairly easy to disregard the instalove factor, and I quickly found myself hoping that their love could transcend the many obstacles that they faced.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone is so much more than a story of forbidden love, though: it showcases the importance of love in all of its forms, including familial love and friendship. It speaks of war and peace, the importance of hope, and how difficult it can be to craft your own identity. These themes are so powerful and expertly woven into the mystery-laden plot, adding to the enthralling nature of the story.

Overall, Daughter of Smoke & Bone was a beautifully written, intricate and imaginative tale that I will definitely be revisiting time and time again.

Thoughts from Books (#1)

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”

This is a quote that has resonated with me since the first time that I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower. We are our biggest critics, and often don’t realize how truly beautiful and incredible we are. We have a hard time accepting the love and encouragement that our family, friends and loved ones offer, since we don’t see ourselves clearly; our sights are consumed by what we deem to be “flaws.” We settle for second best, since we don’t feel that we are deserving of anything better. This applies not only to relationships, but also jobs, the way that we perceive the world, and the way that we see ourselves. Loving others comes much more easily than loving ourselves, but both are equally important. We need to rid ourselves of the feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness and embrace our whole being – flaws and all – as something that is beautiful, valuable, good enough for anything, and worthy of being loved.

What are some quotes that resonated with you lately?

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libraries: Netflix for books?

Recently I came across an intriguing article on Book Riot that I thought I would share with you lovely people in the hope of starting some sort of discussion. The article was written by Kelly Jensen and is titled: “Libraries Are Not a ‘Netflix’ for Books.” 

It is clear what stance the article takes on this subject- it argues that libraries are not the book equivalent of Netflix. The primary objective of Netflix is to make money because it is a business and that’s what businesses do. Libraries, on the other hand, exist to spread the love of literature, to act as a resource for knowledge and education, and to serve the community in general. Everyone is treated equally at libraries, whereas on Netflix those who can pay more money have access to more options and features than those who can’t afford to do so. Numerous other arguments to support this idea are explained in the article, but the very last line actually sums it up best: “Libraries reach out where Netflix reaches in.”

Personally, I wholeheartedly agree with the opinion emphasized in the article. I currently work as a page in my local library, and I know from my own experiences that the atmosphere there is not one that would be found at a business. Libraries are not there to make a profit, nor are they there to persuade prospective customers into buying their goods. Library staff members are there to be friendly and helpful- can Netflix say that of its service? Libraries provide patrons with an environment that fosters reading, learning, and a sense of community, which is a statement that Netflix cannot even come close to.

What is your opinion on this topic? Do you agree with the article or are you against it? Or maybe you’re even on the fence? Let me know in the comments section below- I’d love to hear what you think!

Yours,

HOLLY

Waiting on Wednesday (August 27)

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

This week, I’m waiting on Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang, which has an expected release date of September 9, 2014.

On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

I’ve seen countless glowing reviews of this book, and the comparisons to If I Stay have definitely led to it being placed near the top of my to-read list. It sounds beautifully heart-wrenching, so I absolutely cannot wait to give it a read.

Which books are you waiting on? Leave me a link or a list to your Waiting on Wednesday post below.

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