Monday, November 18, 2013

Getting Rooted in New Zealand by Jamie Baywood

A few weeks back a beautiful woman named Jamie Baywood contacted me about her book called Getting Rooted in New Zealand. I was so thrilled to read her book and even more excited for the opportunity to interview her after I read it. She sent me a copy and although some family stuff took over my time for a while, when I did get to read her book, I tore through it in one night. Oh my goodness. This girl can write. Also, she is one of the funniest people in the entire world.

Courtesy of Jamie Baywood
Her book is a memoir about her time in New Zealand. Jamie moved to New Zealand on a work visa to escape the dating scene she found herself in and to find some adventure. New Zealand has about 100,000 fewer men in the population than women, perfect for a girl needing a change and needing to avoid creepy men. (Side note, she found the creepiest people in California. Her stories about her past relationships are so phenomenally awkward.) Through her introspection about her past and mulling through her present in New Zealand, Jamie is able to find more of herself and finally get rooted in New Zealand, in more ways than one. (The best part of this book is the double meaning of the word rooted. So. Much. Yes.)

Courtesy of Jamie Baywood.
Look at how stunning she is. Prettiest ever.
She is an amazing writer. Her style is so conversational and open. She's incredibly honest and giving and you sincerely feel that she is a friend of yours telling you about her time living abroad. When she meets crazy men, you laugh and cringe with her. When she has a horrific day at work with her boss who is a one woman tornado, you get mad with her. When she meets a sexy Scottish guy and starts loving on him, you cheer for her. (PS Jamie... I was 10000% serious when I asked if Grant has any single friends. I love Scots. Hook a girl up!)

After finishing her book I sent her a few interview questions that I'd love to share with you. Here is our interview. Enjoy getting to know Jamie Baywood a bit more; I sure did.

Did you know when you moved to New Zealand that you were going to write a book about your experiences?

I consider myself an accidental author. I didn’t go to New Zealand with the intentions of writing a book about my experiences there. I had funny experiences that I had trouble believing were true. I wrote the stories down to stay sane. I wrote situations down that were happening around me and shared them with friends. The stories made people laugh so I decided to organize the stories into a book and publish in the hopes to make others laugh too.

My education is in fine arts, I didn’t write until I moved to New Zealand. I had a lot of art shows in California and New Zealand and even managed an art collective in Auckland. I was bored with the fine art scene. Everything has already been done before in painting, but I am the only person that can tell my own story. Writing feels like a more honest form of art than any other method I’ve tried.

Courtesy of Jamie Baywood
Publishing my book was my way of transforming poison into medicine. I hope that it can help people that have had bad dating experiences or bad work experiences – make them laugh and not give up hope.  I had good, bad and weird experiences in New Zealand and California. My experiences have turned me into a writer and I am extremely grateful for that.  People that read it either seem to think it’s hilarious or horrifying and I respect all points of view.  I hope my book Getting Rooted in New Zealand makes you laugh!

It would be impossible to write down every single thing that happen to me in New Zealand for over a year and it probably wouldn’t be interesting to read. My book is 100% true. These are 100% my experiences. I have changed some the names, but not all of individuals and organizations to preserve privacy. Most of the book was written as the events happened; it just took me a few years to work up the nerve to publish. To write my book Getting Rooted In New Zealand, I relied upon my personal journals, e-mails, and memories. In February 2013, I organized my stories into a cohesive narrative. It went through several rounds of editing and then I published in April.

When did you start writing? What got you started?

I had the opportunity to write and perform for Thomas Sainsbury the most prolific playwright in New Zealand. I performed a monologue about my jobs in the Basement Theatre in Auckland.  The funny thing about that experience was Tom kept me separated from the other performers until it was time to perform. I was under the impression that all the performers were foreigners giving their experiences in New Zealand.  All of the other performers were professional actors telling stories that weren’t their own. At first I was mortified, but the audience seemed to enjoy my “performance,” laughing their way through my monologue. After the shows we would go out and mingle with the audience. People would ask me how long I had been acting. I would tell them, “I wasn’t acting; I have to go to work tomorrow and sit next to the girl wearing her dead dog’s collar around her neck.”

What was the hardest part about writing this book?

I know my experiences in New Zealand are unusual, but to be completely honest it was an improvement from my life in California. Surprisingly, I seem to be getting the best feedback from people living in New Zealand both Kiwis and non-Kiwis.  I have received very kind emails from New Zealanders saying they enjoyed reading my book, they are looking forward to reading the next one and some encourage me to move back to New Zealand.

I love making people laugh more than anything else. I love hearing from readers that my book is making people laugh out loud. The hardest part has been when people don’t understand my humour. I have been in a lot of situations where I had two choices: laugh or cry. I’ve chosen to laugh. I write my experiences from a purely personal standpoint. Compared to other travellers who worked abroad in New Zealand my experiences have been very unusual. I would highly recommend everyone goes to New Zealand to experience their own adventure.

I think readers need to remember this is the dairy of a young, hormonal and confused twenty-something, this is not a travel guide to New Zealand.  I am sincerely appreciative of everyone that has read Getting Rooted in New Zealand. I’m absolutely grateful that readers are enjoying the book and reviewing it positively. I love making people laugh. I hope you enjoy Getting Rooted in New Zealand!

From the very beginning it is clear that you are very dedicated to your Buddhist faith. How did you find that faith and what hooked you to it?

In addition to being an accidental author, I am also an accidental Buddhist. I never planned to become either. I was introduced to the Buddhist practice that involves chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo through a friend. I was very reluctant to go to the Buddhist meeting with him; I thought it would be really weird. Much to my surprise hearing the chanting made me feel at home on a cellular level. I’ve always struggled with anxiety and at times depression, chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo calms me to the core.

Over the next few years, through a lot of chanting, going to Buddhist study meetings and reading books like The Buddha in Your Mirror I really learned to love, value and respect myself. For the first time in my life I felt really happy and the happiness came from within. The thing that I like about Buddhism is it is about taking 100% responsibility for your own life. The word karma translates into action. You can change your karma by changing your actions. Essentially, stop doing the same thing and expecting a different result. For me, needed to overcome my relationship karma by stopping dating guys that I knew were wrong for me.

Five years later I’ve now lived and practiced this Buddhism in five different countries: California, American Samoa, New Zealand, Scotland and now England. The practice is in 192 countries around the world and everywhere I go I have a built in community. Five years ago, I never thought I would get married. I’ve now been married for nearly two years and married the son of a knight in a castle in Scotland. My life has transformed in many ways other than my relationship karma, but I have literally chanted my way from trailer parks to castles.

You mention that New Zealand has one hundred thousand fewer men than women. Coming off of a few heartbreaks myself this idea to go to New Zealand is sounding pretty good to me! Was that the only reason you chose New Zealand?

I know it sounds like a crazy reason, but I needed a serious change in my life and felt I needed to leave the country to do so. I started dating my first boyfriend when we were fourteen and the relationship ended when I was twenty-three.  I had never dumped someone and didn’t have the life skills to do so. Between ages twenty-three and twenty-six, I would only date guys I knew I could dump easily. Not surprisingly, only dating guys with clear and abundant flaws that were easy to dump, created a lot of chaos and drama in my life. 

When I was twenty-four, I had my second boyfriend who I call Hank, in real life his named rhymed with Hank. Hank had a drug dealer that sincerely went by the name Stank. I took Hank to rehab, after that I had a string of crazy suitors and ex’s.  If you had Hank and Stank in your life, what other choice do you have, but to leave the country and become an author? 

By the age of twenty-six, I was actually much happier being alone than dating, but I was completely bombarded by guys trying to date me. I read in a New Zealand tour book that the country’s population has 100,000 fewer men than women.  I wanted to have some me time and an adventure. New Zealand seemed like a good place to do so. 

I found a work abroad company that helped young Americans get work visas in New Zealand and Australia. I had been watching a lot of Flight of the Conchords at the time and enjoyed Bret and Jemaine’s sense of humor and accents.  

(That Flight of the Conchords reference is further proof of how awesome Jamie is. Love this girl.)

I loved the story of the double meaning of the phrase "getting rooted" and after reading what that meant in New Zealand, the title of the book took on an entirely new meaning. Why did you decide to use that as your title?

My title is another way of laughing at myself. One night I was brushing my teeth with my flatmate and I said, “I'm really excited to live in this house because I have been travelling a lot and I just need to settle down, stop travelling and get rooted.” I had meant get rooted in the America way to settle down, lay down roots. He started choking on his toothbrush and asked if I was hitting on him. He explained to me what rooting meant in New Zealand.

I decided on Getting Rooted in New Zealand because it’s funny and the book is about rooting – both meanings of the word.

Do you keep in contact with any of the people you met in New Zealand?

I do keep in touch with most of the people I met in New Zealand. Some of my dearest friends in the world are in New Zealand. Although it is technically not home to me or my Scottish husband, it feels like home to us as a couple because that is where we met. We have been feeling homesick for New Zealand and really miss our friends there. 

Have you been back to visit New Zealand since you left with Grant? (Side note, Grant is this perfect Scottish man she met in New Zealand. Not to spoil the book but... I love love. :) Mostly Scottish love.)

We haven’t been able to go back to New Zealand or anywhere by plane. Although I was married in January 2012 in the UK, my marriage visa was not approved by the UK Border Agency until September 2012. During this time, I was not allowed to work, study, collect benefits or even leave because they had both my passport and my husband’s passport.  

I am currently on a visa in the UK called an Extension to Stay as the Spouse of a UK Citizen. This visa will expire in September 2014. We are deciding now if we should go through another round of visas for me to stay in the UK or if we want to try living somewhere else in the world.  We are seriously considering moving back to New Zealand next year. 

I can only speak from my own experience attempting to settle as a spouse of a UK Citizen.  I have personally found the level of bureaucracy in the UK makes the possible feel impossible.  

This is one the main reasons I decided to go ahead and publish Getting Rooted in New Zealand.  Due to my visa restrictions with the UK Border Agency, I’ve had no rights to work in the UK, but they couldn’t stop me from publishing my book. 

How was the wedding!? How is Grant? How is Scotland? How is your life now?

Courtesy of Jamie Baywood.
Sorry that they are the most attractive
couple in history.
I love being married to him. We got married in a little castle in his home town in Scotland at the beginning of year 2012. My husband wore a kilt. I was hoping for a white winter wedding, but we ended up getting sunshine in Scotland during the winter. It was a magical day; we had a rainbow over a loch, bunny rabbits hoping by us, birds chirping and a full moon reflecting on the loch at night. 

We still can’t understand each other if we aren’t in the same room and there are always new words or Scottish sayings I’m learning.  I hope I never stop swooning over his accent. Being married to a Scottish man is the best. I love the Scottish accent and all the words he uses. I love hearing wee in every sentence. He calls me wee fluffy bunny. I married the sweetest man. He is also incredibly kind, handsome and humble. 

Courtesy of Jamie Baywood.
This. Is. Perfect.
Time to move to New Zealand
to find my Scot.
Grant is very busy working on a MA in Landscape Architecture. This gives me a lot of time to work on promoting my book and attending book talks throughout the UK.For unwanted and complicated reasons we had to move to England last September. It was devastating to have to move out of Edinburgh to Sheffield, England last year for my husband graduate school. We will have to live here until summer 2014. We had more culture shock going from Scotland to England than anywhere else.

Rather than being displaced to a country I didn’t want to move to, I decided to be displaced with the goal of publishing. I’ve just completed a MA in Design. Designing, publishing and marketing my book was my dissertation project. 

I’ve never lived this far inland before. It makes me feel claustrophobic to be so far away from the ocean. I desperately miss the ocean and being warm at the beach. I really miss the warm, friendly nature of the people in the South Pacific. If money and visas weren’t an issue, (which they very much are) I’d love to go summer to summer between Edinburgh, Scotland and Auckland, New Zealand. 

What is your second book going to be about? When can we expect to get our hands on it?

I plan to divide my books by the countries I've lived in. My next book will be about attempting to settle in Scotland. I plan to publish it late 2014.


I would highly recommend this book to all of you! It was such a fun read and I loved getting to know Jamie through her book and through our emails. She's so cool and I cannot wait until her next book release. I want to follow her travels for as long as she writes them. :)

I would also like to thank Jamie for the opportunity to read her book and interview her. This was the best! Thanks again, Jamie!

Getting Rooted in New Zealand is available in paperback and ebook on Amazon:

Jamie Baywood can be followed on the following sites:

Happy reading, lovelies! 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A New Home

Hello beautiful readers of this blog and books alike! The past few months have been pretty crazy here and this blog hasn't been getting much love. I'm sorry about that.

But after a lot of thought I have decided to focus on my other blog, Tightrope to the Sun. On this blog you will find snippets of my writing, some music, what's going on in my life, and yes! still book reviews. I didn't want to neglect either blog and I thought the best way to do that was to combine them into one blog instead of trying to care for both separately. It's like what the perfect Ron Swanson said on Parks and Rec:

"Never half ass two things. Whole ass one thing."

Preach, Ron Swanson. Preach. 

I will never stop reading and I love writing about books. But now I have a place where I can combine my book reviews with my usual blog posts. It would mean the world to me if you would stop by that blog and follow me over there. The support of you all as readers has meant so much to me and I'd love for that support to continue. I'd love to see you on my Tightrope to the Sun!

See you over there, lovelies!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Hello lovelies! So I read To Kill a Mockingbird but felt the post would be a bit more at home on my personal blog. Please wander over there to read my post about this amazing book that I read as part of a read-along hosted by Adam of Roof Beam Reader.

You can find my post here!

Thanks for reading :)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell

Where my history nerds at? I am a HUGE history buff and my favorite of all favorites would have to be Tudor England. Specifically Anne Boleyn. I have had a huge love affair with Anne Boleyn since I was a little girl and first read a book about her. One book about this amazing woman and I was hooked. I watch all the movies about her that I can, all the TV shows, all the biographies, all the novels. I devour anything I can about her.

Her story never gets old for me and she is definitely my historical hero. Because of my very zealous following of her story and my clear love for her, I have become very picky about how she is portrayed. Almost to a fault picky. I like my Anne to be strong willed and sexy, daring and driven, smart and stubborn. She was devout to her religion and she knew what she wanted. She was injured by the beast that was Henry VIII and unjustly killed. Moral of the story, homegirl is the greatest woman that ever lived. The books I read about her must show her in that light. In my opinion at least. (Which I consider to be awesome. TEAM BOLEYN FOREVER)

I'd been craving some Anne for quite some time when I saw this book peeking out at me.

via Goodreads
This book is about Elizabeth at the start of her reign. She is a young girl of 25, headstrong and proud and ready to finally rule. Her council is urging her to marry so England could finally have a proper ruler in a King. More specifically, a man. One day, an old woman named Lady Sommerville comes to see Elizabeth and tells her that she attended to her mother while she was in the Tower of London awaiting her execution. She reveals a secret diary Anne had kept throughout her courtly life and given to Lady Sommerville on the day of her death to one day give to Elizabeth when she was Queen. 

First lines:

"'God's death!' roared Elizabeth. 'Will you not give me one day's respite from this tiresome pestering? You make my head ache.'
The queen's councillors could hardly keep pace with the extraordinarily tall and slender woman now moving in great strides across Whithall's wide lawn to her waiting mount."

Already liked Elizabeth from the start. She kicks butt.

The book alters between pages from Anne's diary and Elizabeth's life as she becomes more of a Queen and gets to know her mother as well as battles with a love for a childhood friend. Elizabeth finds guidance from her mother's words as well as a new understanding for the woman always portrayed as a great traitor and whore. 

I loved the premise of this book, especially the inclusion of Elizabeth. I've always imagined that Elizabeth would have a fierce love for her mother and defend her, but that's only because I feel that way for Anne. It was very cool to watch her learn more of her mother's life and quest for the crown that would ultimately kill her. It was fascinating to watch Elizabeth go from sort of admiration of her father to disgust at his murder of her mother and madness of his mind. 

I liked watching Elizabeth pull closer to her mother and see the parallels of their worlds connecting. They were both women with power in a man's world. They were women before their time with quick wit and an even quicker tongue. As Lady Sommerville says:

"You have your father's eyes, Elizabeth, but it is your mother's spirit shining through them."
"'I loved your mother,' said Lady Sommerville quite unexpectedly, 'from the first moment I laid eyes on her lonely soul.'"

I loved Anne in this book, which is truly saying a lot from me. She was bright and spunky and very smart. She smelled of spice and had a lilting laugh and I thought she was just lovely. I loved the image of her stealing away during her busy life and writing in her secret diary. It made her feel very real and very vulnerable and isolated from court, which I imagine she was. Even when she was popular in court, she was very alone in her own head, thinking up plots and flirtations and planning the capture of a King. I liked this lonely and melancholic Anne. It made her more strong and more determined to read about her journey in her own stolen words.

She was stylish and sexy at the beginning of her journey starting in 1522 in the diary. Confident and daring, it was no wonder that she would win Henry over.

"I boldly met the French King's eye and held his blatant gaze before dropping the lowest of seductive bows. I arose and knew that all the courtiers were admiring me, caressing me, undressing me."

"I'll have his soul, be that assured. When? How? I cannot know. But Anne Boleyn shall have her day."

"I thought then, Yes, be elusive as the wind and he will seek but never hold me."

GOOD LORD I love Anne Boleyn. She makes me feel sexy and powerful and Robin Maxwell has written an amazing Anne. 

As the years passed on and I began counting the years to her death the transition to scared and defiant felt real. Reading her own words made it very personal and made my heart hurt for this abandoned woman. 

"For all my taunting words and clever teasing I swear I feel no winner, but just a girl in deep water closing o'er my head."

"For men love that which they cannot have, and hate that which they cannot control, I was both to Henry."

Anne grew and the writing changed. She became older with her words and she had learned her lesson about playing with fire. The transition was written beautifully.

The mixing in of Elizabeth's world with Anne's was done very well but I found myself wishing for more Anne. The diary entries jumped years and months, which I understand completely but I do feel the book could have been longer. I felt like we didn't get enough time with the courtship phase of Henry and Anne. I wanted to see him fall more and hear more about how she managed to keep his advances at bay for six long years before finally giving herself to him. More time in the middle entries were spent discussing affairs of state. While those are important, I wanted her personal diary to be filled with personal stories about secret kisses and a Henry before the fat disgusting King I love to hate. I wanted to see them fall for each other and that didn't happen much here. 

Besides that one missing piece, I really enjoyed this book a lot. It pulled at my heartstrings and I loved the mother/daughter relationship. I loved the Anne written in this book almost as much as I love my favorite Anne from The Tudors on Showtime. (Natalie Dormer, am I right? She's unreal and perfect. Get her out of here.) If you are a lover of Tudor England or Anne Boleyn, I think you would really enjoy this book. 4/5 stars. 

Unreal. via fanpop
Until next time, happy reading! I'd love to hear any recommendations you have for me, or your thoughts about anything I've read. Leave your comment below; I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

I love historical novels and I especially love World War 2. I was so excited to pick up a copy of this book. Plus. LOOK at this cover!

I also love books that I'm told will make me cry, pretty safe bet with World War 2 books. I've heard a lot about this book this year and I was thrilled to finally pick up a copy at my bookstore. 

This book is about a girl code named "Verity" who parachutes in to Nazi-occupied France during 1943. After making one small error, she is captured by the Gestapo and taken in for questioning. She is offered one choice: tell them the mission she has been give or face execution, an execution that won't be quick or painless. 

The girl who flew her into France is Maddie, her best friend and a female pilot. To reveal the information the Nazi officers want from her, she writes a narrative of the events leading up to her landing, told from the perspective of Maddie. 

Throughout the novel, Verity writes about what happens to her in her prison inside a hotel converted into a Gestapo headquarters as well as the events leading up to her landing. The sharing of both stories made for an interesting and intricate read. 

I was so ready to love this book. I was ready to cry hysterically and be unable to sleep at night because I was up reading. This was not my experience. This book took me so long to read and it was a struggle for me to keep my attention on what was happening. There were so many terms I didn't understand and the majority of the book was made up of planes and mechanical jargon that went right over my head. It made it hard to follow the main points of the story and to watch the friendship between the two girls blossom. I wanted a more intimate look at who these girls were and what this friendship was, but instead it was all military talk with the occasional peak into the minds of the girls. 

From the brief moments the girls got to talk, I loved them. The characters in this book were complex and beautiful. I loved hearing their voices. 

First lines, courtesy of Verity:


I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was. I have always been good at pretending I spent the first twelve years of my life playing at the Battle of Stirling Bridge with my five big brothers- and even though I am a girl, they let me be William Wallace, who is supposed to be one of our ancestors, because I did the most rousing battle speeches. God, I tried hard last week. My God, I tried. But now I know I am a coward. After the ridiculous deal I made with SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer von Linden, I know I am a coward. And I'm going to give you anything you ask, everything I can remember. Absolutely Every Last Detail."

Verity was strong and determined and I loved her. Maddie was so strong too, but had a quiet strength that was so different from Verity. I loved the little tender moments we got to spend with them, sharing their fears, snuggling in bed after a hard day at work, moments before Verity has to land in France. I wish the novel focused less on the nitty gritty details of how to fly a plane and types of engine and more on these two. 

The ending though was quite amazing! It had a twist that I did not see coming and while I didn't cry, it shook me and definitely made an impact on my mind. The end is how the whole book should have been- deep and electric and moving. 

All in all I would give this book 2 stars out of 5. I liked the characters and I liked where the plot wanted to go, but sadly it read a little bit like a military pilot textbook. I realize it sort of had to be that way since Verity was revealing secrets as she was telling the story, I just feel that more narrative could have been put in to move the plot along faster. 

Until next time, happy reading! I'd love to hear any recommendations you have for me, or your thoughts about anything I've read. Leave your comments below; I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Austen in August

Hello everyone! So here is my announcement. I will be participating in Austen in August hosted by Roof Beam Reader

The goal is to read as many Austen or Austen related works as possible in the month of August. So you can read the classics or something different like Austenland by Shannon Hale (a personal favorite!) The point, read Austen! Love Austen! Live Austen! Love Mr. Darcy... mmmmmmm.

So good. So. Good. 

If you would also like to sign up to participate, go to the Austen post found here by leaving a comment on the original post. There's gonna be prizes given away and chatting on twitter using #AustenInAugustRBR

Make sure if you participate you get a button and put it somewhere on your blog to help spread the word about this awesome event! 

Button button whose got the button

Austen is perfect for the winding down of summer. It's such a romantic time. I can't wait!  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

For my June classic, I wanted a short story that packed a lot of punch. That's how I feel about June; it's a light, breezy month that always seems to pack a lot of surprise power. 

I chose the most perfect June read. 

First lines:

"We didn't always live on Mango Street. Before that we lived on Loomis on the third floor, and before that we lived on Keeler. Before Keeler it was Paulina, and before that I can't reemmber. But what I remember most is moving a lot. Each time it seemed there'd be one more of us. By the time we got to Mango Street we were six- Mama, Papa, Carlos, Kiki, my sister Nenny and me.

The house on Mango Street is ours, and we don't have to pay rent to anybody, or share the yard with the people downstairs, or be careful not to make too much noise, and there isn't a landlord banging on the ceiling with a broom. But even so, it's not the house we'd thought we'd get."

This book is about Esperanza Cordero, a young girl trying to find her place in the world while growing up in her house on Mango Street. The story is told in a series of vignettes, none longer than about six pages. Through these seemingly simple stories, you truly get to know Esperanza through her words and the haunting visuals that take root in your mind.

This was quite honestly some of the most beautiful writing I have ever had the privilege of reading. The entire book reads like an epic poem, the most epic story that could ever be told. A story that every person alive shares: the journey of growing up and becoming who you are. It's the story of what shapes all of us, which is where we grow up. Those people, those places, those rooms, those halls. They stay with us like this book will stay with me. 

Cisneros has some of the most beautiful turns of phrase. She made me see things in a different way and she made this book so alive and so beautiful. Her mind must be so vivid and lovely; I'd like to live in her mind and surround myself with her words and ideas. She just made the whole world new for me. 

Like in this section, Esperanza is talking about having to be friends with her baby sister out of sisterly duty although she wants her own best friend. She says of her situation:

"Until then I am a red balloon, a balloon tied to an anchor."

I just. I just... I can't with this book. 

Like when she describes going through puberty. Specifically, getting hips.

"One day you wake up and they are there. Ready and waiting like a new Buick with the keys in the ignition. Ready to take you where?

They bloom like roses..."

Speaking from first hand experience here... this is 100% what happens when you get hips. You wake up and BAM. Suddenly you sway when you walk and suddenly boys are watching you. Oh puberty, you testy mistress. 

Although this is an incredibly short book and the vignettes so small, I felt incredibly connected to Esperanza and each character she introduced me to. You watch her grow through these stories and you can sense her growth with the words. The stories change from not wanting to play with her sister, to going through puberty, to longing for kisses, to longing for a future away from a past she is anchored to. Her story is my story. Her story is your story. There is a reason this book is so prolific although it is a new arrival into the classic canon. Everyone can relate to the fear and desire to grow up, and how hand in hand those two emotions are. 

I chose to read this book at a very interesting time. I'm preparing for a few huge life events. I'm finishing school, getting a real people job, moving into the city. Like Esperanza I've spent my whole life pushing myself forward, wanting to leave my past and the house I never wanted for the house I dreamed of and the autonomy I've longed for. But now that my time has come, I'm nervous and thrilled at the same time. 

This story was an amazing reminder as to how connected we are to our roots. No matter how much we try and fight where we are from, it's ingrained into our souls and imprinted on our hearts. 

This book made me want to write and I was inspired the entire time I read it. I finished the book and immediately wanted to read it again and relish those words once more. This book was a huge comfort to me too during this crazy times in my life. Especially the last lines.

"One day I will pack my bags of books and paper. One day I wills ay goodbye to Mango. I am too strong for her to keep me here forever. One day I will go away. 

Friends and neighbors will say, What happened to that Esperanza? Where did she go with all those books and paper? Why did she march so far away?

They will not know I have gone away to come back. For the ones I left behind. For the ones who cannot out."

I too must now pack up my bags of books and paper and get ready for the rest of my life. But as of now, at this moment, I very much enjoyed my brief stay on Mango Street with Esperanza. Please please please take a visit there yourself. You'll love your time there. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson

To continue the romantic trend I was feeling this week, I picked up a book by one of my favorite authors/ humans: Maureen Johnson. Part one, her twitter feed is hilarious and every day I'm not her is a day I'm not proud of. She's amazing. Her Shades of London series... unreal.

I was excited to read more of her stuff seeing as I haven't had a chance to. I stick to stalking her Twitter and other such accounts... in a loving way. Not a creepy way. Not. At. All. *cough*

If you know me and my reading tastes, you'll know that this is not the usual type of cover that I'm drawn to. I still am not a fan of this cover. At all. Just like with my last post, this cover doesn't match the book at ALL. This girl, while pretty, looks nothing like the main girl. Grr. Curse you chick lit covers. CURSE YOU. I just feel like covers like this limit books. I would never have picked this book up, even to see what it was about, if I hadn't had prior knowledge of the author. Granted, I'm a snotty person about book covers and I just... GRR CHICK LIT COVERS. 

Anyway. The book itself. This book is about Clio, an artistic girl from Philadelphia with a strained relationship with her father. She lives with her mother in a run down Victorian house and her summer plans are laid out perfectly in front of her. She got a job at her local art shop, it seems like the guy she likes will be ready to be more than just an acquaintance; all is well. But then her mother reveals that she has to spend the summer working in Kansas and is sending Clio to work with her estranged father on a boat in the middle of the Italian coast. 

Her perfect summer is now invaded by her father and a crew of other misfits to be stuck on a boat all summer. She is stuck with her father's best friend, his strict new girlfriend and her daughter, and a snarky research aid named Aidan. They all set sail on a tricked out yacht on a mission that remains secret, something Clio cannot abide. I'll leave the plot at that so as not to spoil things. 

Now, like I mentioned earlier this book is not my usual cup of tea. I love romantic stories but I usually like them drenched in about five layers of drama and history and not just served to me on a girly pink platter. This book was a fun read but for me it was a little bit too juvenile. I'm probably not the best reviewer for this kind of book because the point of this book was to be juvenile and light. It accomplished those things.

I love Johnson's writing. She is so funny and so natural and it's easy to become invested in her books. I loved the way she tied in little bits of history into the main storyline. We were able to read a few pages from the early 1900s, following a girl who is somehow involved in the mysterious treasure the main characters are searching for. I honestly found myself wishing for more history and less modern day. I'd read a book about the historical side character any day; she was my kind of woman!

As opposed to some of Johnson's other books, I didn't feel attached to these characters at all. They all seemed pretty one dimensional to me and I was frustrated with them the majority of the time. Aidan, the supposed romantic interest, was way too argumentative to even have that "I hate this boy but we are clearly meant to be" vibe. I just didn't like him. Straight up saw nothing in him worth noting. 

As a leading lady, Clio felt a little boring. She was an artist but I didn't really get that vibe from her. And I understand that teenagers often struggle with their fathers for unknown reasons and are often harsher to them than they need to be but... I was mostly just annoyed by her. It was a bit too teenager for me. But once again, I'm probably not the ideal audience for this book. 

The plot was fun. It was a bit unbelievable in some spots. My main struggle: yeah, I understand that you hate your father and that these people are not your ideal yacht-mates BUT you are still on a yacht in the middle of Italy. Maybe it's just me but I'd enjoy that. A lot. Even if I hated everyone. 

The fantasy of the book was fun. I did feel like I was escaping into the book and dreaming of the ocean, I just felt that more could be done to help get me there. Johnson's usual glowing description seemed a little dim in this book. Until the end. The last 50 pages or so were a ton of fun and made the rest of the book worth it! 

This is a good, light, easy summer read. It was much needed for the two days I had with nothing to do; it gave my mind a little vacation but it still left me feeling a little cheated. I wanted more from my Italian fling in the sea, and I think the characters did too. But if you need a light beach read, and you're a little bit of a history nerd like I am, this book will fit the bill nicely. 

Until next time, happy reading! I'd love to hear any recommendations you have for me, or your thoughts about anything I've read. Leave your comments below; I'd love to hear from you.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

I love summer reads. I always reach for something romantic and light; something I can read outside with the sun kissing my skin. I love romance in the summer and catching up on all of those books that I've been meaning to read for ages and ages.

To start on that list of books I've had stacked in my room but never grabbed, I finally picked up Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. I have heard nothing but amazing things about this book, written by a fellow Nerdfighter. (If you are lost... these are people who are awesome and are nerds and watch the Vlogbrothers on Youtube. Made of awesome. DFTBA.)

Before we get into the book, can I just say that I adore the cover redesign? I know there was a big fuss made when they released the new cover but to me it fits the book SO much better than the old cover.

The new cover is so much sexier with its deep reds and sunset motif. This book is far too sexy and far too amazing to have such a simple cover like the old one. Also that is NOT what Anna looks like in my mind. She is also much sexier and cooler. Also where is her blonde streak? Maybe reading this book is the reason I'm gonna put a blonde streak in my hair. Who knows. (It is , though)

This book is about Anna Oliphant from Atlanta, Georgia. Her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year and she is less than excited. She doesn't speak French, she loves her hometown friends and crushes, and she really doesn't like doing what her father wants her to do. 

Once she gets to France she meets a cool new group of friends, one of whom is Etienne St. Clair, a British boy. Born in America. Going to school in France. Who is fluent in French. And hot. So hot. *drools* BACK TO THE BOOK. They soon become best friends but things get tricky as their relationship starts to heat up. Over the course of the school year, their friendship deepens but St. Clair is taken and Anna may have a boy back home. And friendship is more important than french kisses, yes? No? 

This book was perfect. It has everything that I love. Every. Thing. My favorite books feature boarding schools, unrequited love, amazingly witty writing, and British boys. REAL QUICK let me gush a little bit about Etienne St. Clair. Just.. real quick.

Oh my word. It's been a little while since I've fallen this hard for a literary character. But I mean... St. Clair wasn't even fair. He speaks French, he loves his mother more than any other woman alive, he bites his thumb nail when he concentrates, he wears a knitted cap his mother gave him, and he's british. B.R.I.T.I.S.H. Also he's nice and smart. And British, too.

I loved these characters. All of them were unique and they all felt real. I loved Anna. She was a heroine who had real goals. Anna loves film like I love books and she has a website where she reviews the films she watches. I related so much to Anna and her spirit. She was so much fun and I wanted to be friends with her. We had a lot in common and when I can bond with the main character it makes the book all the better. 

The writing guys. The WRITING. Unreal. Stephanie Perkins is so so funny and so romantic. For me she captured the feeling of being in love and how fun it is just to flirt and wonder. 

First lines:

Here is everything I know about France: Madeline and Amelie and Moulin Rouge. the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, although I have no idea what the function of either actually is. Napoleon, Marie Antoinette, and a lot of kings named Louis. I'm not sure what they did either, but I think it has something to do with the French Revolution, which has something to do with Bastille Day. The art museum is called the Louvre and is shaped like a pyramid and the Mona Lisa lives there along with taht statue of the woman missing her arms. And there are cafes or bistros or whatever they call them on every street corner. And mimes. The food is supposed to be good, and the people drink a lot of wine and some a lot of cigarettes. 

I've heard they don't like Americans, and they don't like white sneakers.

I saw everything so clear with how she wrote, I had a clear picture of each character (ST. CLAIR) ad each place they went. It was lush and romantic and very Parisian. I got lost in this book. I could hardly ever put it down, resulting in so many breathless sleepless nights watching these characters fall in love.

The storyline was so much fun. It honestly wasn't what I expected at all. There were some deeper plot twists that took me by complete surprise and I loved that. It wasn't as light of a summer read after all but it was still a lot of fun. 

Some of the moments in this story that could have seemed very cliche were completely new and sweet. Anna and St. Clair are the most adorable pair ever, mostly because they have such a strong friendship. When they met it was clear there was an attraction but their friendship developed so naturally and that was so delicious to watch. I loved that this wasn't one of those summer romance books you pick up and there is no establishment of friendhsip. It's instant lust and gross me out flirting. This was so subtle and natural and charming. Charming. That's probably the best word for this book. Charming. Also sexy. 

From their first evening together by Notre Dame, to St. Clair giving Anna a Canadian flag as a gift *swoon*, to the sparks that fly at their first movie viewing together, I couldn't breathe for half of this book. I had so much anticipation for them to get together. Just one more chapter, maybe they will finally kiss and I can go to bed. PLEASE JUST KISS. This was me the whole time. The. Whole. Time.

Literally me.

I was so excited while I was reading this book. It made me feel alive and hopeful to find my own St. Clair, or pay science a billion dollars to find a way to bring fictional characters to life. Whichever. The anticipation kept me coming back for more. I couldn't stop thinking about this book. Please please read it. It's perfect for summertime or any time you need a little romance in your life. 

(Also, I don't know who drew this. I found it on DeviantArt and it's sensational. It's exactly how I saw Anna and Etienne. God Bless you.)

Until next time, happy reading! I'd love to hear any recommendations you have for me, or your thoughts about anything I've read. Leave your comments below; I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

I've been reading books by Ellen Hopkins for years and I have never been disappointed. Her writing is so unique and fascinates me to read. She is one of those writers who is so amazing she makes ME want to write more. She makes me want to be better. She writes her books in free verse, the whole story being told through poetry. Her books always cover very tough subjects and the verse makes these often horrifying topics beautiful subject ready for close inspection. And although her books are huge, I always fly through them partly because of the verse writing and also because I can never step away from her writing for long.

Impulse is her third book written in 2007. There are three characters featured in this book who all meet in a rehabilitation hospital after attempting suicide. Tony took pills to try and escape horrible childhood memories. Vanessa is scared of becoming like her bipolar mother and hides secrets of her own by continuing a long relationship with her razor blade. And to deal with the immense pressure placed on him by his parents and other adults in his life, Connor shot himself in the chest only to find himself alive and in sent to rehab. 

First lines:

Without Warning

you're traveling
a highway, the only road
you've ever known,
and wham! A semi
comes from nowhere
and rolls right over you.

you don't wake up.
But if you happen
to, you know things
will never be
the same.

that's not
so bad.

lives intersect,
no rhyme, no reason,
except, perhaps,
for a passing semi.

Hopkins always writes such complex characters and this novel is no different. I loved these characters and cared so much about each of them getting better and out of that hospital. I was really drawn to Connor, especially the way he was written. Each character had a different style of verse assigned to themselves and Connor's was beautiful. Slant rhyme and amazing imagery kept my heart wrenched for that boy. One of my favorite moments taken out of his chapters:

Okay, I like him, can
trust my instincts again.
I notice Vanessa, taking 
mental notes, know I must

cozy up to her, too.
Part of it is my old self,
wanting nectar from a new 
flower, the beat of a new heart.

Part of it is a simple need 
to connect with someone who
might understand me,
might reach out to imperfect


I loved him.

There was a slight love triangle in this book but even more than that, it was a support triangle that was written very delicately. Each character is afraid to let themselves get attached to another person but there seems to be a string connecting them all to each other. They start with very tenuous friendships that soon bloom into love for some of them. I loved watching these characters allow themselves friendship and allowing a little flower of hope blossom to the surface. 

The friendships felt very real in the book. When you go through a rough time in your life, the people who are there recovering with you often form friendships faster than other people. These are three passionate and troubled people and in an environment filled with such crazy personalities, these three kids link to each other. I liked that little hints of flirtation and attraction were thrown around. 

The desire they felt for each other was great but I kind of felt that the novel didn't need the love triangle. When two of these characters begin a romantic relationship it felt really unnatural and a little forced. What was such a strong friendship that felt like such a lovely support system became an awkward relationship I could have done without. It sort of felt like when those awkward junior high couples date because nobody else is around and they are both awkward and alone. It didn't feel real and I think in a book like this, staying focused on friendship was more important than beginning a relationship for the sake of a relationship. 

The plot moved swiftly and I was never once bored. Honestly I had a hard time putting the book down each time I had to. I was always in suspense. Hopkins is such an amazing writer. She constantly offers little hints at the secrets her characters hold but you usually never find out their secrets until the end of the book. While this is frustrating because I am always DYING to know what these kids are hiding, it makes for a great read. Just when you think you have their stories figured out a curve ball gets thrown and new secrets glide to the surface. So fun to read these books.

It's always a bit scary to read these books as well. Hopkins makes it easy to understand the choices these characters have made and when they have the impulse to do something again, you understand why they feel the need to do it. Of course you don't WANT them to but you understand them. She makes these characters real and relatable. They could be your friends. They could be you. It's a scary feeling to understand them but it makes you want to help them all the more. It changes the way you think and how you see people. These are books that I feel are incredibly important for people to read, especially teenagers. They show that you aren't alone in having such dark struggles. And even though their subject matter is very heavy, I'm always left feeling more alive and more hopeful than ever. This was a wonderful read. 


Until next time, happy reading! I'd love to hear any recommendations you have for me, or your thoughts about anything I've read. Leave your comments below; I'd love to hear from you. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Every month I choose one classical book to read. I feel that as a writer and a reader it is crucial to see what it is about these books that have made them classics. Why do readers keep coming back to these books? Why is it important that these books are read? What did these books do that those before them didn't? WHY WHY WHY.

This month I selected Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. This is my first little foray into the world of Vonnegut, which is ridiculous. I hear so much about him and the black humor he is known for. I love me some dark humor and even more than that, I love satire. I've been meaning to grab a Vonnegut for some time now and I figured why not start with what is probably his most well known book. And I wanted to use this book as a way to get to know Vonnegut himself seeing as this book is semi autobiographical.

The book is about Billy Pilgrim, an optometrist, a soldier, an abductee, and an exhibit in an alien zoo that has the ability to become unstuck in time, living his life in one moment and then suddenly finding himself in another moment in his life. Billy gains this ability after he is abducted by aliens and taken to the planet known as Tralfamadore where he is taught about what death really means. Also, he is placed in a zoo with another Earthling named Montana Wildhack where they have a child and put their foreign way of life on display.

First lines:

"All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true. One guy I knew really was shot in Dresden for taking a teapot that wasn't his. Another guy I knew really did threaten to have his personal enemies killed by hired gunmen after the war. And so on. I've changed all the names."

The first chapter of the book is told by Vonnegut himself, discussing how this book was close to being unwritten and his own travels back to Dresden after the war had ended. It discusses how he got a three book deal, Slaughterhouse being the first book of the three. I was really surprised that he talked about how hard it was for him to write a book of this nature and subject and how he felt the book wasn't very good. Well Vonnegut, I feel like it did alright.

After that chapter the book doesn't have much of a linear storyline at all. The first of Billy Pilgrim's story begins with:

Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.
Billy has gone to sleep a senile widower and awakened on his wedding day. He has walked through a door in 1955 and come out another one in 1941 He has gone back through that door to find himself in 1963. He has seen his birth and death many times, he says, and pays random visits to all the events in

What you could call the main storyline follows Billy's journey through Germany first with a small group of three other soldiers and then as a prisoner of war and finally in the slaughterhouse in the city of Dresden before it is horrifically bombed. It took me a second to get accustomed to the jumps throughout the book through time and space and galaxy but as you keep reading the jumps feel natural and real.

The plot of the novel is clearly secondary to the writing and the experience the reader walks away with. War is fragmented and jumbled and so is the writing and storyline in the novel. What at first felt unreal with the time jumps soon began to feel incredibly real and plausible. I began to think that although I had never been abducted by aliens and given the ability to become unstuck in time, I had the ability after all. In every moment in our lives that are as vital and shocking as going through a war, I believe that all of us sort of jump through time. On the day I graduated High School I vividly remembered my first day of High School. When I see someone sick, I remember the times I was sick. When someone hears of the birth of a child, they jump back to the birth of their own.

It's our human way of coping. Our own lives are fractured and jumbled and the lives of those in a war zone are even more mixed up. This novel shows one man trying to cope with his life during and after the war, an experience that is clearly hard to get past. Seeing so much will change you. Being touched by death makes your life shift dramatically. This book was dramatic and real and true art.

The book feels incredibly intimate. It's a relatively small book and even as it remains Billy's story, I loved how in some moments Vonnegut pointed out that he also was there. When Billy is captured by the Germans and is watching a colonel from Cody, Wyoming utter his last words Vonnegut says plainly "I was there. So was my old war buddy, Bernard V. O'Hare." This book read like an autobiography even if it was mostly Billy's story. I saw Vonnegut always close by, traveling through time in his own way.

This book is called one of the world's great antiwar books. I would agree but it was also so much more than that. It was a book that looked at war with true eyes. The men weren't treated as heros, war was anything but idolized. What is there to idolize about war anyway? It's a horrible affair. This book was loyal to that idea. But what I loved about this antiwar book in particular was the extraordinary level of hope it carried with it. It shows Billy and Vonnegut coping with life after and during such a horrible experience. It is continually pointed out that war is not fought by men, but boys. It's a Children's Crusade, as Vonnegut painfully terms it.

But as Billy is able to see himself in different times and with the wisdom of the Tralfamadorian race, he is able to see beyond the horror he is experiencing and remember the good times in life. I adored the Tralfamadorian vision of death. It's probably one of the most inspirational things I have read in a book in recent years.

"The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just the way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them, It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever. 
When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in a bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I miself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is 'So it goes.'"

Near the end of the book Vonnegut in his own voice says,

"If what Billy Pilgrim learned form the Tralfamadorians is true, that we will all live forever, no matter how dead we may sometimes seem to be, I am not overjoyed. Still- if I am going to spend eternity visiting this moment and that, I'm grateful that so many of those moments are nice."

I think that in this world of war and life, this is the perfect attitude to have. His optimism is real and he fought for it valiantly through the war he fought in real life and the war he fought in his own mind. The book left me wanting more of how he wrote with hope hidden among the shadows. I'm thrilled to continue reading more Vonnegut.

Overall, I loved the book. It left me changed, which is what I would want from a classic as treasured as this book. The best way I could describe it is with a quote from Life Magazine.

"Splendid art... a funny book at which you are not permitted to laugh, a sad book without tears."

This is an important book, a delicious book, a must read.

Until next time, happy reading! I'd love to hear any recommendations you have for me, or your thoughts about anything I've read. Leave your comments below; I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos

Perhaps it's my obsessive nature with words but my favorite books are those about other books and the importance of words. I love books that focus on poetry and books. Those characters are always the most relatable to me because of how much I love words too.

I was immediately drawn to this book because of the title and the gorgeous cover. I've been loving this new trend I've seen in books of having very unique titles. Titles that are very interesting to read and draw you in. And this cover is just so lovely.

It was so cute and so interesting to look at. And anything about poets or poetry sucks me in immediately. This book is about a Whitman-obsessed boy named James Whitman. James struggles with depression and anxiety in a very stifling family. To cope he recites Walt Whitman every morning, hugs trees, and writes poetry so he could learn to celebrate himself as Walt Whitman celebrated himself with a resounding, defiant YAWP! 

James loves his sister Jorie who for some reason has been kicked out of her house, a problem that grips James as he tries to continue through his junior year in an explosive, but also apathetic household ran by distant parents. 

Maybe it's because it's a subject that hits so close to home, or because it feels incredibly relatable to me, but I love books about depression and struggle. It's an area that is so important and so crucial to understand. It was frustrating in this book to watch people misunderstand James when he tried to express his depression. His parents, in a very heartbreaking scene, told him that he didn't have a reason to be as sad as he was. He lives in a decent house with clothes and food and his health. James starts to believe them and questions why he feels the way he does.

What I loved about this book was that it let you know, in a very nonjudgmental and very encouraging way that it is OK to feel depressed even though your circumstances aren't by right the worst. Depression can happen to anyone and that mental illness is very scary and very hard. If you are struggling with depression, this book will make you feel very supported. I appreciated that a lot. I can't wait to give this book to a few of my friends who struggle this way. 

This book was written so so well. This is an author who I will watch for any time a new book will be released. He had the perfect mixture of gentility with words in sensitive moments and searing sarcasm in others. More often, these both happened in the same moment which made these characters and their speech feel so real. This book felt like how I talk and how my friends talk. James was so cute and such a tender soul. He's a character I cared about instantly.

First lines:

"I yawp most mornings to irritate my father, the Brute.
'Yawp! Yawp!' It moves him out of the bathroom faster.
He responds with the gruff 'All right.' He dislikes things that seem like fun.
I do not yawp like Walt Whitman for fun. Ever since the Brute literally threw my older sister, Jorie, our of the house. I yawp at him because he hates it. My father says reciting Walt Whitman is impractical, irrational. My father says even reading Walt Whitman is a waste of time, despite the fact that we share his last name. My father says Walt Whitman never made a dime, which is not true. I looked it up. Not on Wikipedia but in a book that also said Whitman used to write reviews for Leaves of Grass- his own book!- under fake names.
Who does that? Walt does!
The perfect poet for me. I'm a depressed, anxious kid."

This boy tugged at my heart. He was so sweet and so gentle and so lost. He reminded me a lot of Charlie from Perks of Being a Wallflower. Either we all know someone like James or we are him. Luckily this book is amazing for both types of person. 

So yes, James won me over. But it was Roskos' writing that sank into my mind. He was so honest and so so witty. He has such a fun way with words. Two chapters into the book, James breaks his arm while trying to save a bird... or... a sort of bird. People won't leave him alone about his accident and he responds with:

"At least I'm famous, right? (How many people in history have thought 'At least I'm famous!' for doing something stupid? Probably tons, thanks to YouTube."

I was reading this on my break at work and laughed out loud, which made for a very uncomfortable situation. My favorite situation. He was so clever and fun to read. This book flew by. I couldn't put it down!

My other favorite passage in this book was clearly a reference to hipster kids, my people (HA):

"By seven-forty-five I've narrowed my outfit choices down, but every time I put on a shirt I feel like a dork. The arm cast doesn't help. I want to look normal, inconspicuous, approachable, but also somewhat invisible. I have a black Radiohead shirt with a bunch of white houses on it. It suggests I have good taste in music but also that I need to let everyone know I have good taste in music."

I love our generation. Social media has made life so hard and so awkward and judgmental. It's all such fun, just like this book.

But within the fun, there are some very striking moments of sorrow that are just lovely. 

"I know my parents aren't swinging by her apartment for coffee, cake, and a quick smack. She and I seem to be poisoned with sadness in our blood."

That sentence feels like depression. You can't explain where this pain generates from, it's just there seeping through your veins. 

Do not miss out on this book. It's delicate and light, but also has such a wonderful subdued power behind it that will leave you wanting more. It was a perfect little read. 

Until next time, happy reading! I'd love to hear any recommendations you have for me, or your thoughts about anything I've read. Leave your comments below; I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Hello darlings. I just wrote a post about The Great Gatsby, which is my forever favorite novel, over on my personal blog. I feel that this blog is of vital importance. And since it is about my favorite book, I thought it was only appropriate to link it here. This book defined who I am as a reader and a writer. And just.. who I am as a person.

Please check out my post about Gatsby here.

I'll be posting a book review here tomorrow as well :)

You are lovely. Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Hello readers! So, this blog is now on Bloglovin! Spread the love of books and blogs! Thanks guys :)

A new book post will be coming up very soon.

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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Hello lovelies!

I don't know about you, but I know that my youth was spent reading the book series by Lemony Snicket, The Series of Unfortunate Events. I still read those books because they are that well written, that funny, and that amazing. I'm slowly working my way back through the series whenever I just need a little book to fill an afternoon. (I even wrote a blog post about The Bad Beginning about a year ago.)

After discovering like everyone else did that Lemony Snicket was an amazing pen name (If I just ruined your childhood.. I am so very sorry. This is like that time I told the last two 13 year olds on Earth the ending of Romeo and Juliet and they just started crying... my bad. Belated spoiler alerts all around.) I was excited to find out that Daniel Handler, the winner behind Snicket, had written a young adult novel! I couldn't believe it! Probably my favorite childhood author was now writing books in my favorite genre.

I grabbed a copy when I finally knew I had some time to read the book in what I expected would be one sitting. The cover was marvelous, a little off and strange, just like his middle grade book series. I expected nothing less.

The book has amazing art at the beginnings of each chapter. I just loved how colorful this book looked and felt. I was excited to see how the usual sad story of a break up would be twisted by Handler, who was always able to make a horrible situation bearable with expert dark humor. 

The book is about a girl named Min. (her full name is Minerva... it's a long story, and she'll tell you all about it.) She is returning a box of memories to her now ex boyfriend Ed Slaterton, her complete opposite and her first love. This book is her letter to him accompanying the items gathered during their time together.

First lines:

"Dear Ed, In a sec you'll hear a thunk. At your front door, the one nobody uses. It'll rattle the hinges a bit when it lands, because it's so weighty and important, a little jangle along with the thunk, and Joan will look up from whatever she's cooking. She will look down in her saucepan, worried that if she goes to see what it is it'll boil over. I can see her frown in the reflection of the bubbly sauce or whatnot. But she'll go, she'll go and see. You won't, Ed. You wouldn't. You're upstairs probably, sweaty and alone. You should be taking a shower, but you're heartbroken on the bed, I hope, so it's your sister, Joan, who will open the door even though the thunk's for you. You won't even know or hear what's being dumped at your door. You won't even know why it even happened."

I automatically loved Min as well as the premise of the book. Throughout the book, I always loved Min. She had the lady balls to do something I always wanted to do to ex boyfriends but never did. Go Min, go! Min was sassy and real throughout the novel. My heart ached for her as she fell deeper in love with Ed and it felt like comforting a friend as I read her words, knowing that as she wrote the letter to Ed, she was healing. She felt like my sister. I wanted her to get over her butthead ex, and I wanted to help. 

Min was described beautifully throughout the book. She was described annoyingly often by the people around her as "different" and "arty," words I have heard to describe me a fair few times. She doesn't see herself as that way. She sees herself as simply Min. Unremarkable. Person. Girl. And someone who has remarkably caught the interest of Ed Slaterton, hottie of all hotties.

Min was the best part of the entire book. However... I absolutely HATED Ed Slaterton. Like Min, he was nothing at all my type. He was the captain of the basketball team, he likes beer, he is a serial dater and dumper who has probably slept with half of the cheerleaders. Basically, he is the person I avoid. He is the person Min avoids until they end up talking at a party he crashes. 

The problem I had with Ed was that I saw literally nothing likable about this boy. Nothing at all. Not even in the little moments when he was sweet to Min, or when he told her he loved her before she even told him. The only thing I saw was a manipulator who was only going to hurt her. Which... I still haven't decided if this was the intention of the author. If it was, this book was amazing. I just feel like I wanted something to like about him. Even though I knew the breakup was coming, even as I assumed before I heard the whole story that it was his fault, I wanted to see a shadow of what Min saw in him. The problem was that I didn't. I thought he was a jerk from start to finish, which made the book a bit hard to read.

Along with Ed being the literal worst, the writing of the book was very difficult for me to dive in to. The sentences all seemed incredibly long, words were flip-flopped within known phrases, and paragraphs seemed to jump around quite a bit between thoughts. 

In The Series of Unfortunate Events, these long paragraphs that spanned an entire two pages happened quite frequently, which was fine. The twisting words and jumping thoughts matched the heightened reality of the world those books were set in. But because this was such a realistic story, it sort of seemed out of place for such word tricks. I just wanted a story told directly to me with no word jumps. The super crazy language didn't seem to match a story that is so real and so relatable. 

Along with that, Min is a huge film junkie, which is great! The issue I had was that she would reference all of these films from their world and actors in those films and how those stories related to her life. I loved it the first time it happened. I loved the dedication Handler had to their world and by being so dedicated he made it feel real to me. The issue I had was that these analogies between the story and movies happened so frequently and seemed to just appear in the middle of paragraphs. They were a bit hard to follow because of the sentence length. They seemed to ramble on and on and on and the references were all above my head. Pretty brilliant actually, since the letter is written to Ed, who would have the same reaction as I did. Well played, Daniel Handler, well played.

This review all seems rather harsh. I did enjoy the book once I finally sat down and read for an extended period of time. Behind the twisted words was a story I loved and a character I really cared about. The parts that were written realistically really bit at my soul and reminded me of a few very hard breakups. It was amazing how much I related to Min and this tory. I've read break up stories before. What was great about this was that Min was allowed to stay angry at Ed for hurting her. So many break up books are about a character healing and realizing that that person, although not right for them, is still a good person even though they broke their heart. I LOVED that Min recognized that Ed was a jerk and let herself feel that. 

She sees that he's a jerk, but she also knows that she really did love him. That's where her confusion is and really, where my confusion from a few relationships has been since we broke up. It was beautiful to read about how Min loved Ed, as jerky as he was.

"I'm telling you why we broke up, Ed. I'm writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened. And the truth is that I goddamn loved you so much."

Did you hear that? That was my heart ripping into 800 pieces. I know that feeling. That damn love that won't die just because the boy is a jerk. Just because you know you deserve better doesn't mean you can stop loving him. This book showed that a lot, something I think is valuable for people to know. People aren't told a lot that it's ok to love someone after something has ended. It's ok to be melancholy and sad before you move on. It's ok to grieve. 

It was also really fun to have a book written toward the person who caused the pain, and not written as the character getting over the pain. It was a great release as a reader. In a lot of ways this book helped me get over a few break ups by letting Min say some things to Ed I've wanted to say before. 

All in all, I'd give this book 3.5 stars out of 5. I would really recommend this book to anyone who has felt the pain of a break up or just wants to meet a few characters who are fun to get to know. This was a fun book to read, and it's a story and a character I won't forget soon. 

Until next time, happy reading! I'd love to hear any recommendations you have for me, or your thoughts about anything I'v read. Leave your comments below; I'd love to hear from you!