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September 2017


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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Year: 1847
Page Count: 507
Genre: Coming of age romance
Warnings: child abuse, death of a child, racism, (abuse of) mental illness

Summary: Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead and subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman's passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.
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Trister's Choice by Tamora Pierce
Book #1 in the Daughter of the Lioness duology, #13 overall in the Tortall series
Year: 2004
Page Count: 453
Genre: YA fantasy
Warnings: slavery, racism, general fantasy violence

Summary: Alianne is the teenage daughter of the famed Alanna, the Lioness of Tortall. Aly is bold and brave like her mother, but she has no wish to become a knight. Instead she longs to follow in her father's footsteps as a spy, an ambition her parents vehemently oppose.

After a furious argument Aly runs away, with disastrous consequences. Captured and sold as a slave in the Copper Isles, she discovers that this whole nightmare has not come about by chance - the Trickster God, Kyprioth, has plans for her...


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Rating: 2.3

Liked: seeing familiar characters, the idea and plot, the Copper Island characters
Disliked: Aly's lack of flaws

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Year: 2012
Page Count:359
Genre: YA Coming of age
Warnings: homophobia, transphobia

Summary: Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

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Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Book #1 of The Lumatere Chronicles
Year: 2008
Page Count: 508
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Warnings: slavery, rape, murder/death of children, refugees 

Summary: At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom. He stands on the rock of the three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar's cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to safeguard Lumatere.

But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace. An impostor seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere's walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.

Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock--to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. This arrogant young woman claims she'll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home. Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin's faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.

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Deerskin by Robin McKinley
Year: 1993
Pages: 384
Genre: Fantasy
Warnings: incest, rape, miscarriage

Summary: As Princess Lissla Lissar reaches womanhood, it is clear to all the kingdom that in her beauty she is the image of her dead mother, the queen. But this likeness forces her to flee from her father's lust and madness; and in the pain and horror of that flight she forgets who she is and what it is she flees from: forgets almost everything but the love and loyalty of her dog, Ash, who accompanies her. But a chance encounter on the road leads to a job in another king's kennels, where the prince finds himself falling in love with the new kennel maid . . . and one day he tells her of a princess named Lissla Lissar, who had a dog named Ash.

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Thick as Thieves
by Megan Whalen Turner
Book #5 in The Queen’s Thief series
Year: 2017
Pages: 337
Genre: Fantasy Adventure
Warnings: slavery, fantasy violence, mention of a miscarriage

Summary: Deep within the palace of the Mede emperor, in an alcove off the main room of his master’s apartments,. Kamet minds his master’s business and his own. Carefully keeping the accounts, and his own counsel, Kamet has accumulated a few possessions, a little money stored in the household’s cashbox, and a significant amount of personal power. As a slave, his fate is tied to his master’s. If Nahuseresh’s fortunes improve, so will Kamet’s, and Nahuseresh has been working diligently to promote his fortunes since the debacle in Attolia.

A soldier in the shadows offers escape, but Kamet won’t sacrifice his ambition for a meager and unreliable freedom; not until a whispered warning of poison and murder destroys all of his carefully laid plans. When Kamet flees for his life, he leaves behind everything—his past, his identity, his meticulously crafted defenses—and finds himself woefully unprepared for the journey that lies ahead.

Pursued across rivers, wastelands, salt plains, snowcapped mountains, and storm-tossed seas, Kamet is dead set on regaining control of his future and protecting himself at any cost. Friendships—new and long-forgotten—beckon, lethal enemies circle, secrets accumulate, and the fragile hopes of the little kingdoms of Attolia, Eddis, and Sounis hang in the balance.

spoilers cause this is the series you can't even google without having spoilers )

Rating: 4

It's been awhile since I did a Wednesday Reading meme but I've been on a roll lately!

What I've Just Finished

Paper Valentine - which was a good coming of age YA when it wasn't trying to be a mystery thriller

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda - this was my second reread and i still really enjoyed it

Ancillary Justice - reminded me of the postcolonial literature we read in my Film & Literature class

What I'm Reading Now

Finally got started on the new Queen's Thief novel, Thick as Thieves! I'm really excited because this is the first book to be published since I started reading the series. The book follows a new character but I'm hoping to see some familiar faces.

Still trying to get through Sense and Sensibility and bell hooks.

What I'll Read Next

I have purchased Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe!


Some More Light Verse by Wendy Cope

You have to try. You see the shrink.
You learn a lot. You read. You think.
You struggle to improve your looks.
You meet some men. You write some books.
You eat good food. You give up junk.
You do not smoke. You don't get drunk.
You take up yoga, walk and swim.
And nothing works. The outlook's grim.
You don't know what to do. You cry.
You're running out of things to try. 

You blow your nose. You see the shrink.
You walk. You give up food and drink.
You fall in love. You make a plan.
You struggle to improve your man.
And nothing works. The outlooks grim.
You go to yoga, cry and swim.
You eat and drink. You give up looks.
You struggle to improve your books.
You cannot see the point. You sigh.
You do not smoke. You have to try.
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Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Book #1 in the Imperial Radch series
Year: 2013
Page Count: 386
Genre: SF Space Opera
Warnings: general sci-fi violence

Summary: On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren - a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.

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I saw Wonder Woman on Monday. IT WAS INCREDIBLE.

What I know about Wonder Woman comes primarily from the animated Justice League series and vague comic book osmosis I absorbed from the internet. I will admit that the character of Wonder Woman never interested me as far as the animated series was concerned. She seemed so self-assured and flawless (though I know this is far from the case) that it didn't catch my attention as a viewer. However, I do remember reading the comic 52 and noting that while Supes and Bats got these long arcs of character development to deal with their respective demons, Diana is barely in it.

If Wonder Woman is one of the powerhouses of DC, why did it take twenty years for her movie to be developed? (The funny answer is because of the patriarchy. But it's also the not funny answer.)

If I had to give one line of review for this film, it would be that SEEING WONDER WOMAN BRAWLING WITH TANKS AND THROWING SOLDIERS AROUND GIVES ME LIFE. If I could watch an extended version of the No Man's Land scene for two hours, you bet I would.

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Paper Valentine

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Year: 2013
Page Count: 304
Genre: YA Paranormal Mystery
Warnings: murder/death of young girls, eating disorders, mention of child abuse

Summary: The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness. 

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

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Liked: the writing, the characters, the themes
Disliked: the murder mystery portion of the plot
Rating: 3.25

I'm not doing too well keeping to my summer commitments. The excuse I keep telling myself is it's because I know I won't be able to do them when I'm on my Colorado trip. But, you know, excuses. I have a lot of those.

I haven't been reading. I haven't been exercising. I did do some free writing on Monday for 20 minutes. It was so hard.

Good Bones by Maggie Smith

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I've shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I'll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that's a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

What I'm Reading Wednesday (but i forgot and it's actually Thursday now, oops)

What I've Just Finished

Every year I like to give myself a casual challenge of reading 50 books. I don't count things like graphic novels or manga, so I've never really hit that goal but I've come close. However, school tends to consume any energy I'd have for personal reading, so I've only read THREE books this year.

Back in March, I tried to read Fledgling by Octavia Butler. I made it about 100 pages in before deciding to just skim the rest. Essentially, the premise is that a young, black vampire with amnesia tries to figure out why somebody wants her dead. The idea intrigued me but the execution not so much. The book is first pov, so while there's a lot of interesting world-building, it's a book that mostly tells you what the characters are feeling instead of showing. I later found out that Butler had written the book after a long bout of depression, so it was a fun way for her to ease back into the writing process. It turned out to be her final novel.

Those factors are probably why Fledgling wasn't her best work, so I'm still interested in reading her other books.

Oh, and I also downloaded a reading app that's got a bunch of public domain works on it, so I'm slowly working my way through Austen's Sense and Sensibility.

What I'm Reading Now

I bought Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie back in October when a book store in my neighborhood was closing. I've been reading it on and off since then. I've heard great things about this book and its sequels, so I'm hoping to focus on it more once spring semester is over. I've read 80 pages so far and it feels like the exciting stuff is just about to happen!

What I'll Read Next

In my gender studies class, we read a few chapters from bell hooks' Feminism is for Everybody. It's simple definition for feminism reconciled my nebulous ideas on the subject, so I want to read it in full.

I have another casual challenge that I'm imposing on myself and that is to read an author from every letter in the alphabet. Helps when I'm indecisive on what to read next.

 i'm trying to get the hang of words again. though i don't know if i ever really had the knack for it to begin with. but summer is on the horizon and people always feel hopeful when the seasons change. until then i'll share someone else's words.

Love After Love by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome.

And say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.