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Little Willow [userpic]

Poetry Friday: Brutal Romance by Brooke Fraser

November 21st, 2014 (06:00 am)
Current Song: Brutal Romance by Brooke Fraser

All shapes and colours
Rolled and stained in aging hands
Sculpted explosions
Histories unfold
Our Jackson Pollocked earth turns
A silent witness

Lonely as silent
Poets bequeath best attempts
Romanticising
The brutality
Of the ages and of us
Avarice and lust

Love and death, and death and love
Brutal romance
The silver thread, the sharpened knife
A spinning slow-dance
I can't remember before
Warmth in the veins, lead in the core
Brutal romance

You're dripping with gold
Mine is more interior
Yours is sinking you

Men at attention
Devouring a drowning fleet
Epaulettes of charm

Love and death, and death and love
Brutal romance
A silver thread, a sharpened knife
In a spinning slow-dance
I can't remember before
Breath in the lungs, blood on the door
Brutal romance

And I want to sing
Over them and into them
What can't be unsung
And I want to sing
Over you and into you
What can't be unsung

Love and death, and death and love
Brutal romance
A silver thread, a sharpened knife
A spinning slow-dance
I can't remember before
Washing of wounds, won inner wars
Brutal romance

- Brutal Romance by Brooke Fraser, from her beautiful brand-new album, Brutal Romantic

Listen to the song here, then get the album (which I've had on repeat all week) from the store of your choice.



View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

Little Willow [userpic]

Books to Read (Forthcoming Releases)

November 20th, 2014 (10:00 am)
thoughtful

Current Mood: thoughtful
Current Song: Without a Trace theme song

November 2014
Sons of Anarchy: Bratva by Christopher Golden
The Zigzag Effect by Lili Wilkinson

Early 2015
Orphan Black comics - IDW Publishing

January 2015
The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson
Fallout (Lois Lane) by Gwenda Bond
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Embassy Row #1: All Fall Down by Ally Carter
When Hardcover by Victoria Laurie
Twisted Fate Hardcover by Norah Olson
Please Remain Calm by Courtney Summers
I'm Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil

February 2015
I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

Spring 2015
Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins (the second Rebel Belle book)
World of Payne Book 0: Ghost Dog by Tom Sniegoski and Frank Cho

March 2015
Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Fairy Tale Reform School #1: Flunked by Jen Calonita
Read Between The Lines by Jo Knowles

April 2015
All the Rage by Courtney Summers
The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
Graceful by Wendy Mass
My Life in Dioramas by Tara Altebrando, illustrated by T.L. Bonaddio
One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart
Palace of Lies by Margaret Peterson Haddix (companion to Just Ella and Palace of Mirrors)
P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (To All the Boys I've Loved Before sequel)
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

May 2015
Dust to Dust by Melissa Walker
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Summer 2015
Mummy Cat written by Marcus Ewert and illustrated by Lisa Brown

June 2015
The Devil You Know by Trish Doller
Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Tin Men by Christopher Golden
Uprooted by Naomi Novik

July 2015
All We Have Is Now by Lisa Schroeder
The Secrets She Keeps by Deb Caletti

Fall 2015
Teen Boat 2 by Dave Roman and John Green
Violent Ends edited by Shaun Hutchinson

Sometime in 2015
Edgewater by Courtney Sheinmel
Louisa Trapeze by Micol Ostow
The Summers by Aimee Friedman
Think Twice by Sarah Mlynowski (sequel to Don't Even Think About It)

Spring 2016
Time Stoppers by Carrie Jones

Little Willow [userpic]

Entertainment Weekly's list of 50 Books Every Kid Should Read

November 19th, 2014 (07:36 pm)
curious

Current Mood: curious
Current Song: Thunder by Brooke Fraser

Entertainment Weekly just released a list of 50 Books Every Kid Should Read. As I read the list, I kept thinking, "That's interesting," as in it was interesting to see what was included and what was not. For example, I was incredibly happy to see The Phantom Tollbooth, the All-of-a-Kind Family books, and The Book Thief on the list. Then there are some titles that I wouldn't have included, but that's just me. I'd be interested to hear what books on this list my fellow bloggers and loyal readers have read, and what books they would add to the list. Please leave your comments below so we can discuss.

Here is the list as presented by Entertainment Weekly. Note: The print article has the byline "by Chris Lee" while website says "by EW staff."

If the title is italicized, then I've read it.
If the title is bold and italicized, then I strongly recommend it.

Ages 3-5
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban
- All of the Frances books are cute. My favorite Hoban story is Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas.
Strega Nona by Tomi dePaola
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg - This story is special to me.
The Mitten by Jan Brett

Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen
The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkey

Ages 6-8
The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
The Ramona series by Beverly Cleary
- I have read every single Ramona book, and all of the books that take places on Klickitat Street!
A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
- Very precious to me.
Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne - I've only read a few
The Arrival by Shaun Tan - I think this is the wrong category for this book; it is a wordless graphic novel, and Tan himself differentiates it from children's picture books
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney - I've only read a few

Ages 9-11
The Black Stallion by Walter Farley
All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor - Wonderful books!
The Borrowers by Mary Norton

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl - I prefer Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster - So awesome.
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths by Ingrid & Edgar D'Aulaire
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
Holes by Louis Sachar
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket - I've only read a few
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Ages 12+
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis - My favorite in the series
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson - Tears.
The Giver by Lois Lowry - So much better that the companion books that followed it.
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - TEARS.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Smile by Raina Telgemeier
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- I prefer Looking for Alaska.

See the article/list in image form at Dave Roman's Tumblr or click through the gallery at the Entertainment Weekly website.

Want to check out my top book picks for kids? Here you go:
So You Want to Read YA?
Middle School Must-Haves
Funny Fiction for Kids
Favorite Picture Books
Favorite Beginning Readers
Coming-of-Age Novels aka Bildungsromans
Tough Issues for Teens
...and all of my booklists plus my best of lists, which I post once a month and once a year.

Little Willow [userpic]

Booklist: Multiple Narrators

November 19th, 2014 (04:10 pm)
thirsty

Current Mood: thirsty
Current Song: So Young by The Corrs

There are two sides to every story - or three, or four, or more. Here are more than a dozen stories for pre-teens, teens, and adults which employ multiple narrators, listed alphabetically by author:

The Poison Apples by Lily Archer (classmates)
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (classmates)
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler (best friends)
Never Mind! by Avi and Rachel Vail (twins)
The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June by Robin Benway (sisters)
Just Flirt by Laura Bowers (enemies)
Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough (guardian and charge)
Sweetgrass Basket by Marlene Carvell (sisters)
A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley (acquaintances become friends)
When It Happens by Susane Colasanti (classmates, then...)
Take Me There by Susane Colasanti (friends)
If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko (classmates)
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (strangers at first)
Naomi & Ely's No-Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (friends)
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (strangers at first)
Mare's War by Tanita S. Davis (grandmother and granddaughter)
The Fruit Bowl Project by Sarah Durkee (classmates)
To Be Mona by Kelly Easton (classmates)
Dirty Laundry by Daniel Ehrenhaft (classmates)
Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles (antagonists, then...)
In a Heartbeat by Loretta Ellsworth (organ donor and recipient)
Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin (coworkers)
The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante (best friends)
The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George (classmates)
Split Image by Mel Glenn (classmates)
Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes (classmates)
Hit by Lorie Ann Grover (student and teacher)
Takeoffs and Landings by Margaret Peterson Haddix (siblings)
The Signs trilogy by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian (classmates)
- Book #1: Burn For Burn
Grand & Humble by Brent Hartinger (classmates)
The Drake Chronicles (series) by Alyxandra Harvey (best friends - one's a vampire)
Identical by Ellen Hopkins (twins)
Impulse by Ellen Hopkins (patients)
Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes (classmates)
A Time for Dancing by Davida Wills Hurwin (best friends)
All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab (classmates)
After Obsession by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel (classmates, then...)
Feathered by Laura Kasischke (best friends)
You Are My Only by Beth Kephart (relatives)
Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles (friends)
Going Under by Kathe Koja (siblings)
The Girls by Amy Goldman Koss (friends)
The Cheat by Amy Goldman Koss (classmates)
Poison Ivy by Amy Goldman Koss (classmates)
Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney (3 generations of teen girls)
The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan (schoolmates)
Are We There Yet? by David Levithan (brothers)
How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle (friends/co-workers)
Leap Day by Wendy Mass (classmates)
Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass (new friends)
The Sisters Club series by Megan McDonald (sisters)
- The Sisters Club
- The Sisters Club: The Rule of Three
- The Sisters Club: Cloudy With a Chance of Boys
The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty (best friends)
The Secret Language of Girls and its sequel, The Kind of Friends We Used to Be by Frances O'Dowell (best friends who grow apart)
Jersey Tomatoes are the Best by Maria Padian (best friends)
Harmless by Dana Reinhardt (friends)
34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues (friends and sisters)
The Bridge from Me to You by Lisa Schroeder (classmates, then...)
To Feel Stuff by Andrea Seigel (two college students at the school infirmary and an M.D.) [Note: Adult fiction]
The Swap by Megan Shull (classmates)
The Way He Lived by Emily Wing Smith (classmates, siblings, and friends)
This is What I Want to Tell You by Heather Duffy Stone (siblings)
A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone (schoolmates)
Give A Boy A Gun by Todd Strasser (schoolmates, teachers, etc.)
Hung Up by Kristen Tracy (strangers, then friends)
The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld (bandmates)
Afterworlds by by Scott Westerfeld</a> (a writer and her protagonist - but the two worlds do not meet/crossover)
Under the Light by Laura Whitcomb (ghost and host)
Leftovers by Laura Wiess (best friends)
Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia (classmates)
How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr (two teenage girls)
Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando (two college-bound girls)
Anyone But You by Lara M. Zeises (raised like siblings)

Note: Jodi Picoult, whose novels often have teenage protagonists but are shelved in adult fiction, typically have multiple narrators.

Little Willow [userpic]

The Palace Chronicles series by Margaret Peterson Haddix

November 15th, 2014 (10:09 pm)
awake

Current Mood: awake
Current Song: Astronaut by Paris Carney

When kids and teachers ask me for a book that's a twist on the Cinderella story, I offer them Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix and the companion novel, Palace of Mirrors. These books are royally good, and I strongly recommend them to fans of Shannon Hale.

In Just Ella, we met 15-year-old Ella after the big ball we're all familiar with - but it turns out the story everyone has heard isn't exactly true. Instead of getting glass slippers from a fairy godmother, Ella won them in a wager with a glassblower. Instead of having a pumpkin transformed into a carriage, Ella got a ride from a kind (and human) coachman. Instead of relying on magic, Ella uses her brain and her bravery to make her dreams into reality.

When the book begins, Ella is already engaged to Prince Charming. But being a princess isn't all it is cracked up to be. Conversations with the prince prove that, although he's nice, he's really not for her. After learning more about the war that's taking place beyond the palace gates, Ella becomes even more disenchanted with her royal life and yearns to do something that will help those suffering. When she tries to break the engagement, evil steps in and Ella is physically removed to a dungeon.

But the villains should have known that even dungeon bars can't stop Ella. She must use the same smarts and determination that got her to that famous ball in the first place to get out and to help her country. Ella is a selfless, intelligent leading lady, and Just Ella is a very neat adaptation.

In Palace of Mirrors, we follow a 14-year-old peasant girl named Cecilia. Raised by Nanny and educated and protected by Sir Stephen, Cecilia likes the evening best of all, for that is when she has lessons - "And for me it's the moment that divides my day as hardworking, ragged peasant girl from my evening as secret princess poring over gilded texts." (Page 22) She goes on to say, "The studying is no easier than the chores, but it's more promising."

But Cecilia isn't the peasant girl she pretends to be. She's a princess. When she was little, her parents were murdered. Cecilia was whisked away and a decoy (Desmia) was put on the throne. Cecilia can't tell any of her friends about it, not even her life-long best friend Harper. Meanwhile, Desmia, the decoy, thinks she's the real princess.

Then Cecilia's village is threatened, and she decides to reclaim the throne. Enter 11 other girls and knights. Each and every one of these girls thinks SHE's the real princess - and so do their knights. Their stories are all the same, and each girl was given a royal object as proof of her royalty.

Like Ella, Cecilia isn't afraid to get dirty, to walk barefoot through sludge, to bloody her fingers when trying to get out of a locked room. She doesn't yearn for the power or the fame or the riches or the ballgowns; she wants to bring peace to the kingdoms and make her slain parents, her ancestors, and her beloved caretakers proud.

Who reigns supreme in the end? You'll have to read the books to find out.

Palace of Mirrors takes place in the same world as Just Ella, with Ella herself making an appearance. Spoilers: Highlight to view - [ Ella is now engaged to Jed, who is the head of the delegation trying to end the war between Suala and Fridesia. Harper's dad died in that war, and though Harper's mom trained him to play the harp, he really wants to be a soldier.) And guess who has been working for the past year as the medical officer in a refuge camp near "the worst battlefield of the Sualan War" and wants to become a doctor after the war is over... ]

The third book in the line, Palace of Lies, will be released in April 2015.

The takeaways:
Follow your own truth.
Find your truth in yourself, not in others.
Do what is right for you.

Word of the day:
Munificent - to be extremely generous or liberal
Ella uses this word to describe Desmia.

Little Willow [userpic]

Quotes: On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

November 15th, 2014 (07:17 pm)
thankful

Current Mood: thankful
Current Song: Law & Order: SVU score music

Continuing my transcription of notes I took five years ago, I offer you quotes from the outstanding book On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta:

The faces of the dead or missing, so young and happy that all I can think of is, how can they be dead? Toothy grins, mostly those school photos that you keep hidden. - Page 60

After Taylor finds all of the songs that Hannah mentions in her manuscript, she downloads them, making her own soundtrack:
I wrap myself in the music, curled up in my bed, thinking of Hannah, eyes wide open, forcing myself to keep awake. Unlike Macbeth, who has sleep taken away from him, I can take sleep away from myself.
- Page 135

My mother deserted me at the 7-Eleven, hundred of kilometres away from home.
Hannah, however, did the unforgivable.
She deserted me in our own backyard.
- Page 135

"Hold my hand because I might disappear." - Narnie to Jude, Page 188

She looks as me intently. "She used to talk about you. She'd tell me that when I came to the school, I would have you and that she'd be the luckiest person in the world because she'd have both of us. I used to think she was your mum." - Page 242

How can you just forget a person completely until the moment you see his face again? Who else is back there lurking in my head? - Page 331

I'm holding one of only two people left in the world who share my blood: my father's sister, who one night sat in the same spot for four hours just to protect her brother from a sight that would have killed his spirit. - Page 397

So what is On the Jellicoe Road about? It's about a girl named Taylor was abandoned twice: once at a convenience store by her mother when she was 11 years old, and again by Hannah, her guardian and mentor six years later.  It's about the manuscript Hannah left behind, filled with stories about teenagers from two decades ago. It's about the struggle of power between different groups of students at Taylor's boarding school. It's about alliances, and secrets, and personal histories, and hazy memories. It's about the past. It's about the future. It's about Taylor. It's about Hannah.

Read this book. Read it now.

Related posts at Bildungsroman:
Booklist: From a Land Down Under
Booklist: Coming-of-Age Novels aka Bildungsromans
Hope: Melina Marchetta

Little Willow [userpic]

Hacking Harvard by Robin Wasserman

November 15th, 2014 (06:25 pm)
Current Mood: Forgiven Not Forgotten by The Corrs
Current Song: Law & Order: Criminal Intent

The novel Hacking Harvard by Robin Wasserman starts with a prank. Readers quickly learn that these characters aim to do things that will make people stop and think, to consider what's happening - no whoopee cushions or silly hacks, but rather, something that means something, that makes a statement.

The bet is to get someone into Harvard that wouldn't get in otherwise. Not a prank, Max clarifies, but a hack. Forget the kid stuff they've done before - this will be something huge, powerful, meaningful. Schwarz doesn't want to get expelled. Eric doesn't want to do something immoral. They find out that this is a bet Max made with the Bongo Bums. Named after Richard Feynman, a prankster and bongo player, they are two juniors from Boston Latin High School who make bets and do things for bragging rights, and want a rivalry with the other boys, who'd rather be left alone and do their own thing. Max pretends the bet is for $100 but the amount increases throughout the book.

"We're going to take the biggest loser we can find - the least ambitious, least intelligent, least motivated, most delinquent and drugged-up slacker we can get our hands on - and we're going to sucker this school into letting him in." At least, that's what is shared with the readers on page 46. Our players are not so forthcoming with the full details. Readers learn more about the terms and the payout as the book goes on.

It's not about sabotaging the other party's candidate but getting your own candidate IN. They get a tough guy named Clay who beat Eric up as a kid, when Eric tried to stand up for other kids and ended up as the punching bag.

Also along for the ride is Alexandra Talese. Wanting a name that is a little daring and edgy, she has decided to go by Lex in college. She takes the name out on trial run during her first in-depth conversation with Eric, after the SATs.

Lex wants to go to Harvard of her own choosing, not for the sake of "superficial, society-imprinted, consumerist non-entities," not legacy, but because she wants it, because she thinks it's the best school to attend, the result of her extensive college research:

"I had made my pro/con charts, carefully weighed all the options, and chosen a winner. There was a reason Harvard had a reputation for being the best, I'd decided, and the reputation was self-fulfilling, because it meant Harvard got the best -- the best students, the best professors, the best resources -- which I meant I wanted it to get me. I wanted to get lost in the country's biggest library; I wanted to learn Shakespeare from a grand master while staring up at a ceiling carved hundreds of years before. [...] I wanted to be in awe of the school, the teachers, the history, the legacy -- I wanted to be terrified I wouldn't measure up. I wanted to prove that I could." - Page 83

Lex reveals that she uses knowledge to her advantage - not just her book smarts, but the things she knows about certain people. She doesn't sabotage them in a physical or evil way, but she casually (or otherwise) lets people's secrets slip out so that she is picked over them: running for sixth grade president, talking the other girl out of joining the newspaper staff in ninth grade, then holding her position on the yearbook staff - this girl's theme song should be Use What I Got by Lucy Woodward!(1)

So why would an overachiever team up with the bums? Because although she had great grades, community service, leadership positions, and school staff positions, she felt like there was nothing outstanding about her, nothing that set her apart. No national awards or anything unique, outstanding, international, or amazing. She was not one-of-a-kind, she was not a special snowflake, she was merely one of many smart fishes in the sea: "Nothing set me apart. Nothing to make me special." - Page 213

Throughout the story, Eric is the voice of reason. He considers himself a realist, and he normally abides by the honor system, doing the right thing because it's right, so he really struggles with the bet. Eric is Jewish and says that instead of doing good deeds in life in order to earn a wonderful afterlife in an eternal paradise, "Judaism isn't about what happens next. It's about what happens here, in this life. You don't necessarily get rewarded for doing the right thing; you don't get punished for doing the wrong thing. You're supposed to be a good person just because that's the right thing to do. Doing the right thing -- that's the reward." - Page 170

Max Kim is a legacy, with his father and two older sisters all Harvard grads. Max likes to sell 80s items on eBay and thinks things should have a 500% profit. He's in this not just for his father or Harvard, but because of what they've been told: "It's about all the (nonsense) they've been feeding us since preschool: Do your homework, be good, fall in line, do what we say, and maybe, if you're lucky, you'll get the golden ticket. We're supposed to act like the only thing that matters is getting into college -- getting into this college - and so most of the people who do get in are the ones who buy into the (nonsense) so completely that they've never done anything for any other reason. It doesn't matter what they want, what they like, what they care about, who they are -- they don't even know anymore, because they're trying so (darn) hard to be the people Harvard wants them to be. In the end they're not even real people anymore. They're zombies." - Page 47 (Yes, I replaced the swear words for the sake of my younger readers. I'm sure you can fill in the blanks.)

Let's not forget Schwarz: geeky fellow, camera peeping got him out of their high school and homeschooled for two years. Now 16 and a Harvard freshman, this 96-pound weakling prefers numbers and photographs to real-life people, as humans are inherently flawed and photographs trap beauty on the page. Schwarz is eloquent. He doesn't necessarily use huge words, but he always uses full sentences and sometimes sounds a little antiquated ("I was not doing anything of any importance") as he actively avoids swearing and contractions (he tends to say "it is" rather that "it's"). He is awed by beautiful college girl named Stephanie who whines to him about her dates and breakups. He would be right at home in an 80s movie - and Max would then sell the movie poster on eBay.

The book also closes like a classic teen movie, providing information on what happened to all of the major players after high school - what colleges they attended, what career paths they followed, et cetera. There's also a disclaimer from the author asking readers not to hack in because it would be wrong, illegal, and dumb, and it's clear that she has both compassion for rising seniors dealing with college applications and total respect for admissions officers.

Wasserman is great at creating characters who are fueled by their goals and intentions, be they good or bad, selfish or selfless. The following speech is particularly awesome:

"Imagine there was something you really wanted. Not something petty, like knee-high leather boots or a new boyfriend, but something major. Something so significant that it would change your life forever. And imagine that you wanted that thing the way a child wants, without perspective, a wholehearted longing that consumed your entire being with the certainty that life would not, could not continue without it. Imagine that, like a child, you had no control over getting your heart's desire. You couldn't do anything other than lie awake at night and wish, furiously, desperately, hopelessly -- because, not actually being a child, you would know that wishing was useless. You would know that there are no magic wishes, no fairy godmothers descending with a wink and a want. Still, useless or not, you would dutifully squeeze your eyes shut every night, curl your hands into fists, listen to your heart thus, and, like a child, let yourself believe that someone was listening when you whispered: I wish. Now imagine that your wish was granted." - Pages 205-206

The book is mostly told in third person with first person woven in at the start, making readers curious about the narrator's identity until it is revealed - and it totally works.

Enjoy the book - but don't get any ideas, okay?

(1) Use What I Got by Lucy Woodward is an amazing song I have been known to listen to/belt out in order to pump myself up before a big event. I had the opportunity to sing it at an audition once - and I booked the gig.

Related posts at Bildungsroman
Interview: Robin Wasserman
Playlist: Seven Deadly Sins by Robin Wasserman

Little Willow [userpic]

Breathing by Cheryl Renee Herbsman

November 15th, 2014 (05:26 pm)
grateful

Current Mood: grateful
Current Song: Like Breathing from Edges

In the novel Breathing by Cheryl Renee Herbsman, a young woman named Savannah - named after the tornado that was passing through and being announced on the radio when her mother was in labor - struggles to find her strength. Troubled by her severe asthma, she is one point of her three-person family, alongside her younger brother Dog (Dogwood) and her single mother, who can't hold job due to Savannah's frequent hospitalizations and emergencies. Her father left when she was three - and the asthma started the day he left. Meanwhile, her mother won't tell her employers about her daughter's condition due to pride. (See the quotes below the review - I include part of her speech from pages 211-212.)

Savannah has a summer job at the public library, where she works alongside a librarian called Miss Patsy. Her main task is re-shelving books. She also runs storytime sometimes, and some days it's a headache, but some days the kids are attentive.

Then Savannah meets Jackson. She hopes it's something more than summer love, and it seems to be, as Jackson supports her through hospital stays and other worries. But when Jackson has to leave, Savannah must live for herself, to fight her fragile trappings and find strength.

Meanwhile, Savannah's English teacher, Mrs. Avery, put Savannah's name in for the Program for Promising High School Students, a semester-long college experience for tenth graders in Blue Ridge Mountains. Only 50 kids from both Carolinas can go. She filled out apps even though she knew they couldn't afford it. This, more that anything else, struck a chord in me because my family had to let opportunities go because we couldn't afford them. And goodness, how that hurt. If you've been there, you get it.

Now comes the part of the review where I inundate you with quotes from the book. Read them and weep.

It may sound dorky, but I love books - the feel of the paper, the old, musty smell, and especially the way the words roll over you and take you somewhere altogether different. They've been my escape long as I can remember. Whether I need a break from schoolwork or my brother or just life in general, there's always a book that can take me someplace far away. - Page 7

"And one of my feelings comes over me -- one of those itty bitty moments when time seems to freeze -- just for a breath. And I get the feeling that this moment fits, matches somehow, with something from the future. And I know this ain't the last I'm going to see of Jackson Channing." - Page 80

Mama to Savannah: "When you love somebody, you got to set 'em free. If they love you, they'll come back."
"Daddy didn't come back," I whisper.
"No, he didn't," she says real quiet. "And maybe that was for the best."
- Page 125

Denny Caterpillar, DC - You'll get it when you read the book.

I go hide in my room and read through some printouts I made at the library about course choices for that program in the mountains. I know it's only dreaming. But I reckon if you go on and act like something is real, sometimes it just believes you. Next thing you know, there it is staring you in the face. - Page 173

Savannah's mother gives a great speech on pages 211-212 about not wanting handouts from others. The speech includes her not wanting to have to thank "those same folks whose faces, full of pity, I'd been forced to thank for their broken games all those years. [... I] promised myself we wouldn't never take a handout or let nobody drown us in their pity ever again, not so long as there's air in my lungs."

The book has some really nice chapter closures, such as:
Suddenly, I feel so happy, it seems like I got the opposite of asthma, like I got more air in my lungs than I know what to do with. - Page 222

"You hold my dream. I hold yours." - Jackson to Savannah, Page 244 - "You got to know that you can breathe all on your own."

Spoilers - Highlight to read - [ Savannah ultimately realizes she has to find out if she can breathe on her own and be her own cure, not wait for somebody to come and rescue her like her mom waited for her dad for 12 long years.

Here are the final lines of the book.

Then up out of nowhere comes one of my too-true feelings. Even though everything is going all right, the sense I get is that what's on the way is even better. I imagine me and Jackson strolling down the beach together when I get home. Only the me in my mind has changed somehow -- in a way only I can discern. It's in the way I hold myself, in the tilt of my head, in the easy swell of my lungs, 'cause what's different is who I am inside. That new me there has a knowing this me here doesn't quite have a grasp on yet, a knowing that comes from scaling my own mountain, a knowing that comes from breathing -- all on my own. - Page 262
] - Here endeth the spoilers.

If you're a Sarah Dessen fan, you should read Breathing by Cheryl Renee Herbsman.

Little Willow [userpic]

Quotes: A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

November 15th, 2014 (05:23 pm)
contemplative

Current Mood: contemplative
Current Song: Law & Order: Criminal Intent

I read A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly nearly five years ago, when it was a readergirlz book selection. Planning to write a review, I took notes, but the paper filled with quotes rather than commentary. When I happened upon those quotes today, I thought I'd share them here see which of my readers also read and enjoyed the book. Let me know in the comments below!

"It was a strange feeling -- worrisome and exciting all at once. Weanxilicious?" - Page 186
...to which I added, Hello, portmanteau!

"Emily Baxter's poems made my head hurt." - Page 208
Spoiler alert: Emily ends up being her teacher.

Weaver smiled a sad smile. "You know, Matt," he said. "Sometimes I wish there really was such a thing as a happy ending."
"Sometimes there is. Depends on who's writing the story."
"I mean in real life. Not in stories."
- Page 366

Mattie considers Paradise Lost:
It was a dreadful thing that he did, and he is not to be admired for it, but right then I felt I understood why he did it. I even felt a little sorry for him. He probably just wanted some company, for it is very lonely knowing things. - Page 372

I know it is a bad thing to break a promise, but I think now that it is a worse thing to let a promise break you. - Page 374

When Weaver asks her why she's going now, she tells him, "Because Grace Brown can't." - Page 376

She considers turning back, but:
There's no going back once you're already gone. - Page 377

All page numbers refer to the hardcover edition.

One of my notes that was not a quote. I wrote, "Mattie has a dictionary that her mother bought - her mother saved up money to get it. Mattie looks up a word a day." I took note of this because when I was very little, my mother gave me my own small dictionary so I'd be able to look up words whenever I happened upon one I didn't know yet. Due to both its size and its importance, that dictionary was the top-most book on my stack of reference materials for years.

Related posts at Bildungsroman
Roundtable: A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Little Willow [userpic]

Normally, This Would be Cause for Concern by Danielle Fishel

November 14th, 2014 (07:52 pm)
determined

Current Mood: determined
Current Song: Law & Order: SVU score music

Looking for something fun to read this weekend? Pick up Normally, This Would be Cause for Concern: Tales of Calamity and Unrelenting Awkwardness by Danielle Fishel. This delightful memoir is in the same vein of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling: lighthearted, funny, and honest.

Normally, This Would be Cause for Concern is packed with anecdotes. Some are related to the entertainment industry (including my favorite bit, which I'll quote in the footnotes) and if you've followed Danielle's career from Boy Meets World to Girl Meets World, you definitely need this book, but you don't have to be a lifelong/diehard fan of hers to enjoy this memoir. Most of her stories are about finding the humor and joy in life. There's a chapter dealing with life as a klutz. She talks about balancing school with work when she was a kid, then going back to school and enrolling in college in her late twenties. She details job interviews, both in casting offices and retail stores, and the perils of dating and dealing with social media. No matter what she's discussing, Fishel's love for her family (including her parents, her husband, and their dogs) and her appreciation for her friends, teachers, mentors, and fans is clear.

My favorite Fishel anecdote deals with an audition which includes the line, "Can't you see I want to do more than pour cold milk on your head?" Danielle told this story at Worst Audition Ever, a live event which you may watch online via YouTube. I dare you to watch that and not say the line the same way she does...over and over again. It's hilarious.

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