My Giveaway + Announcements

*My first foray into an Author Interview with Andrew Xia Fukuda is up! (Should I do more?)
*My first manga review for Natsume Yuujinchou V.1 - please let me know what you think

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Triple Snapshots of Jan' 10 - An Abundance of Katherines, Wanting Mor, The Hour Glass

lawl I haven't done this in ages. Changing this to a monthly meme, just because

(Idea inspired by Hyper-Parfait's now defunct Triple Delights)

In which I discuss three novels at the end of the month in quick paragraph snapshots on my general impressions and reactions.

* - indicates POC author

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

You know, after finishing reading this book, I was left with one thought, “If this story was retold in Hassan’s POV I would have liked this novel so much better.” Seriously, while the whole ~*heartwarming*~ road trip left me cold, the fairly standard typical romance had me yawning and Colin’s plight left me mostly unsympathetic (I was dumped by too many girls POOR ME! … You can tell that I’m not really on the dumpee end of the spectrum.), I was completely charmed by Hassan. He was so incredibly geeky (Star Trek references, rofl) and sat around being a school-less, job-less bum with his life’s goal to catch Judge Judy on his tv set, and brought in the funny by poking fun at Colin whenever he went on his angst periods (DINGLEBERRIES. ♥). WHAT IS THERE NOT TO LOVE. The man-boobs can be attractive too. *shifts eyes* I kind of wish I enjoyed it more because I heard great things about John Green, but I’m not exactly tempted to check out his other novels after this one. UNLESS It’s a Hassan novel. I’d buy that in a heartbeat, 1st ed hardcover et all. Ah well, at the end of the day, I did enjoy the novel very much, even if I spent the whole time wishing it was about the side character instead of out protagonist.

Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan *

Hmm, my feelings are a bit mixed for this novel. On one hand I enjoyed this book for giving our main girl Jameela agency in her actions. It’s a bit of a Cinderella story sans the prince, wherein the girl rises from her station and comes into her own. She makes her own choices, her own decisions and I very much appreciated that. I particularly loved how she chose to continue wearing a chadri even after she got surgery done on her cleft lip, how she didn’t choose to wear a chadri because of poor self-image but because she wanted to. However, on the flip side, Jameela herself left me a bit cold. I’m thinking it’s maybe because Jameela is rather cold and standoff-ish towards everyone in the story and by proxy I feel distant from her myself? For the first half of the novel I mostly felt, while a lot of pity for what she had to go through, I also felt distant from everything that was happening to her at the same time. I felt for her, but I just didn’t connect with her. In some ways the second half of the novel was a bit better because she elicited a reaction out of me with her actions towards a particular orphan girl, but my reactions were hardly positive. The reasons for Jameela’s revulsions were explained and true to her judging, standoffish character, but it just didn’t make them any more right. Even when her attitudes towards the child changed towards the end, it just didn’t feel enough for me, more like her attitudes changed because she felt like she was obliged to be kind rather than out of fondness for the child herself. Thinking back, I may have remembered this novel more kindly if Khan handled this relationship between Jameela and the child differently. I tend to remember my endings more than anything so the fact that most of their interactions happened in the second half left the stronger impression on my mind.

The Hour Glass by Hilary Spiers

Ugh. My first short story anthology of the year and it SUCKED. Seriously not impressed. The only reason why I actually finished it (thus being able to talk about it) is because 1) it was a giveaway win and I feel like I oughta at least see it through the bitter, bitter end and 2) the lineup to get my transcript stuff was like, an hour long so I just flipped through the whole thing to see how it’ll go. I think I would have remembered this anthology more fondly if I didn’t finish the whole thing, to be honest. When I first started out, most of the short stories were just very meh. The writing was uninspiring and as for the stories themselves, I keep thinking of other short stories I’ve read that dealt with the themes Spiers presented in a far better fashion. All the short stories basically bored me… Until we got to that Bronte family story of FAIL. Seriously, what was that? It wasn’t even like, a fictionalized historical recount of their lives, but like, she just randomly shoves them in some vague “modern” setting and had them talking about non-inspired story plotlines. There was no plot or ANYTHING. And the interactions Spiers wrote in were terrible and (dare I say it) OOC aka Out of Character. Spiers made the Bronte sisters sound like spinster old writer hacks with the most horrendous writer’s block sharing uninspired ideas with one another and that’s just wrong, wrong, WRONG. Okay, so maybe I’m getting defensive ‘cause I love Emily Bronte and Anne Bronte’s works, but still. ARGH. If I wanted crappily faux reimaginings of historical figures I could go around FanFiction.Net. DO NOT RECOMMEND. And, if I were to rate this anthology, I’d give it a 0/5. The only reason why there aren’t negative numbers in there is because I’m trying to tell myself that just because this one story was fail doesn’t mean I should hate on the whole anthology of mediocrity.

January's Social Justice Challenge: Religious Freedom

(*looks at date* Yeah, er, don't y'all just love how ridiculously last minute I am about things?)

January's theme was Religious Freedom, and we were asked to answer the following questions:

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of religious freedom?
What knowledge do you have of present threats to religious freedom in our world today?
Have you chosen a book or resource to read for this month?
Why does religious freedom matter to you?

The first thing I think of when it comes to Religious Freedom is the freedom to believe whatever you want to believe without persecution and with tolerance.

My knowledge of present threats to religious freedom are pretty limited, but I am aware that when there have been two attacks on the largest mosque in Hamilton, ON, Canada, and the problematic ways in which Canadians view those of Islamic faith within my country. (Link: Jihad vs. McWorld: one man’s terrorist…) Also, that there are problematic relationship between the Muslim Malays and Non-Muslim Chinese in Malaysia, but I don't have anything concrete to say about this as my knowledge on this is all hearsay from my parents, who emigrated out of the country when I was a child. But yeah, beyond that I'm pretty clueless.

I've chosen to read A Girl Made of Dust by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi this month. I've also read Wanting Mor by Ruskhana Khan, (which er, a review will be coming soon...)

As for why religious freedom matters to me, I believe that the person's ability to believe and practice in their faith shouldn't interfere with other's freedom to practice their own faith, and religious tolerance is a fundamental basis that everyone ought to respect.

Review: A Girl Made of Dust by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi

Title: A Girl Made of Dust
Author(s): Nathalie Abi-Ezzi
Genre: (YA) Historical Coming-of-Age Fiction
Page Count: 236
Publisher: Doubleday Canada

The Summary (in my own words): Eight-year-old Ruba and her family lived in the village of Ein Douwra outside of Beirut to the rumbles of shellings. It is the 1980s in Lebanon, deep in civil war and the looming Israeli invasion shadowing our tale. But Ruba was concerned with other things: her mother in a permanent state of sadness as she sweeps and cooks in the house, her brother slowly becoming a stranger as he spent more and more time with older boys and guns, and her father who sits on his chair all day long, silent and avoiding the world. When Ruba decides that she has to save her father from the sadness he suffers, she uncovers secrets in her family, one by one... And all the while the events of the war seeping closer and closer to Ruba's town, Ruba's life.

The Review: When I was reading this book the first time around, something about it felt off. I found this book on the YA shelves, knowing that the protagonist was supposed to be eight years-old. However, when I read it, there was something about the narrative that nagged at me. On one hand it was lovely, beautiful prose, and yet on another hand it didn’t fit with the narrative voice I was expecting out of a MG/YA novel. Those who read MG or YA novels may know what I mean: narrative voices that make you feel like you’re hearing the protagonists thoughts, etc. In other words, the voice of the novel was completely off. And yet, on the flip side, I couldn’t say that there was anything wrong with the narration either. There was a beautiful, flowy style to it that I enjoyed very much. It was just that somehow when I put together the narration style I read with my expectations for a YA/MG novel, something didn’t add up.

It wasn’t until I looked up information on this novel online that things started clicking together. I saw copies of this novel with the above cover marketed as YA – and, at the same time, I saw another version of this novel with a different cover marketed as Adult Lit. As far as I can tell they’re both the exact same novel with both versions having the complete text, just marketed to two different groups. And in this case I think this novel very much falls under Adult Lit. The style of the novel just made that much more sense to me if I think of it that way. There’s a style to writing Adult Lit and a voice to writing YA novels that I’ve come to expect, and A Girl Made Of Dust, while failing at capturing the standard YA voice, excelled brilliantly in getting down the Adult Lit narrative style. When I read the novel a second time around, with this information in mind, the novel worked so much better. Fans of the adult literary style and historical fiction should run right now to get your own copy of this novel. You don’t want to miss out on this little gem by a promising debut author.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

GLBT January Mini-Challenge

The challenge this month is about why this challenge (which is, to read GLBT works) is important to you. The short answer is: I believe that just because we live in a heteronormative, cisgender privileged world, it DOES NOT mean that those who do not confine to this imposed society norm should have their voices be considered as less important, something to be silenced. If anything, by giving voice to the GLBT community, we can work at undermining this system of privileges that is pervasive in our world. I believe that everyone has a story to tell and this is my way of trying to learn and listen.

The long answer will be under cut, and um, much more personal. I’m worried that this more personal answer might make it seem like I’m trying to make this All About Me as an ~*enlightened*~ straight cisgendered person, but please believe me that I sincerely do not mean to do such a thing, and if my privilege is showing do let me know in the comments and I’ll apologize and try to learn from my mistakes. =D

Okay, here it goes. (Btw, this goes waaaaaaay beyond the requirements of one or two paragraphs. … Sorry? xDv)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Review: The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

Title: The Awakening (and briefly touching on The Summoning)
Author(s): Kelley Armstrong
Genre: YA Paranormal Adventure
Page Count: 360
Publisher: Doubleday Canada

The Review: Now, my dear readers, you may be thinking, what in the world are you doing reviewing a sequel of a novel without having reviewed the first book? I’ll be perfectly honest, my feelings about The Summoning can be summed as ‘meh’ at best and I have nothing particularly constructive to say. (lawl, don’t worry, if you’re still curious about my opinions on The Summoning I give my feelings on that subject a nod in a whole paragraph of this uber long review.) The Summoning was one of those novels that I would have never bothered reading anything more by the author except for the fact that my really good friend lent me the two books in one go and I feel like I should at least try them both before dismissing this series all together. Also, at the time when I first read The Awakening, it was either read what seems to be a mediocre sequel or work on my essay.

On retrospect, I should have just worked on my essay. If The Summoning was a lacklustre premise with minor moments of me eye-twitching at the text, well, The Awakening was… To put it nicely, at least this time around this novel got a deep reaction out of me. Enough so that I have things to rant about to write for a review.

WARNING: As I am discussing the sequel of the novel there will obviously be some spoilers that I've decided to not put under a spoiler highlight tag. But some of these spoilers I consider a matter of Public Service, so whatever. But for the uber spoiler phobic I'm putting the rest of this entry below under cut. =D

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Calling for Chromatic Casting Meme in the YA blogsphere, and Chromatic!Demon's Lexicon

Due to the lovely Zetta Elliott* linking me, I'm now aware that there's a Chromatic Casting meme going on in the media fandom blogsphere. I've been looking at these posts and they are making me super-duper happy, especially once there started to be Chromatic Casting for popular books, because I think every reader is familiar with the idea that a lot of written text has a white-as-default within them, and I think this Chromatic Casting meme is a fun way of challenging this white default.

That being said, I'd like to invite all YA bloggers to participate in the Chromatic Casting meme. Why YA bloggers? Well, um, YA is kinda my baby and beloved genre, the one genre I always give special attention to when I'm in the library and bookshopping, and a lot of my muses for this Chromatic Casting meme are all for YA Novels. And, you know, because it's more fun to do this kind of stuff with more than one person, I'd LOVE it if YA bloggers wish to join in on this meme. (Come onnnnnnn do this with me!! IT'LL BE FUN *_______*)

BUT ENOUGH TALKING. Let's get to the good stuff. Links to books that got the Chromatic Casting Meme treatment, behold~

Chromatic!Harry Potter by such_heights
Chromatic!Chronicles of Narnia by dhobikikutti
Chromatic!Illiad, Bollywood-style by toujour_nigel
Chromatic!Lord of the Rings by heather11483
Chromatic!Discworld by innerbrat

Links to other Chromatic Casting Memes can be found here

And because I never do things like this without participating myself, two things:

1) Chromatic!Ash, jdrama-style - While this was done without knowing that this meme was going on, I did it in similar spirits. =D

2) Chromatic!Demon's Lexicon

Vic Chou as Nick

JJ Lin as Alan

Dana Davis as Mae

Daniel Anthony as Jamie

May or may not ETA this with REASONS behind the casting choices. Also, I'm fully aware that I just skipped out on casting all the secondary characters, lol. *got lazy* So here is where I invite readers to think up of their own Chromatic Casting for the rest of the Demon's Lexicon characters. In the meantime I have some ideas for Graceling and Hunger Games Chromatic Casting that I'll be musing over.

*Read her novel A Wish After Midnight!! Reaaaaaaaaad iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Casting Ash in a J-drama AKA If Japan Ever Decided to Make a Lesbian!Cinderella Drama..

Time for something fun in this blog. So, some of you may or may not recall my review of Malinda Lo’s Ash wherein I stated that I was incapable of imagining the characters as Asian. Knowing this, I suppose you might be wondering, why in the world would I cast Japanese stars for my imaginary movie/drama? Well, I’m really playing with what-ifs here: If I could have imagined the cast as Asian, who would I cast? It was fun, challenging my white-as-default mindset for this novel. MORE IMPORTANTLY, I was inspired by this glorious, glorious photoshoot starring Horikita Maki and Kuroki Meisa. This photo in particular:


I looooove this photobook, and then thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be fun if Horikita Maki played Ash and Kuroki Meisa played Kaisa? Who else would I cast in an Ash j-drama?” With the encouragement and help of ninefly (YOU ROCK MY WORLD! ♥), I am now here with my proposed imaginary cast for a Ash j-drama!

(Okay, for those familiar with their j-dramas, yes I do realize that with a lesbian Cinderella premise, I could have easily just recasted all the main characters from Last Friends and it would have totally worked BUT working with this photoshoot was much more fun. KUROKI MEISA X HORIKITA MAKI!!!)

Note: I tried to make this casting post non-spoiler friendly, so that anyone coming in without having read Ash can understand this post. I er, do make some j-drama references, because the roles I’ve seen them played influenced my decisions, but hopefully it’s comprehensible.

The Faces of Covers: On Whitewashing and Fantasy

Piming out some manga. Because I can.

Bloomsbury has decided to change the cover of Magic Under Glass. Here’s the link to their statement. I suppose I should be ~*happy*~ that they apologized, as vague their statement on what offense exactly are they apologizing for (it feels more like one of those apologies where the person goes “I didn’t know what I did to offend anyone and I’m sorry”, as oppose to, you know, an “I’m sorry for whitewashing covers, I know now that this practice is wrong, and I will take steps to ensure that this won’t happen again”, kind of apology). But whatever, I’m not really interested in giving out cookies. For now, I’m cautiously optimistic as I wait for the new re-jacketed cover. In the meantime, however, I’d like to discuss a few things.

This is what it means to put a POC face on a cover: the reader has the power to imagine that the protagonist isn’t white. It has been discussed that when we read, when there is no significant racial markers there is a big tendency to assume the characters are white. A white face on the cover reinforces this default. I find that, for contemporary or historical set pieces (aka, anything set in the “primary” world), it’s much easier to call out whitewashed covers because it’s harder to ignore the racial markers or justify whitewashing when we have evidence to the contrary. However, fantasy stories, particular secondary world type fantasy wherein the world is clearly not the world as we know it, the voices raised to defend its whitewashed covers get louder. It wouldn’t matter how many times you lift out quotes from the text that cite character so-and-so is dark-skinned, there will be those who insist that they pictured a more olive-complexion than anything, or, my most hated commentary, a protagonist “with a tan”, and defend the cover, saying Why can’t they by white? And follow up with an argument that these are “made-up” races and the rules in our world don’t apply. (This is what I've been seeing, anyhow. In an attempt to be more clear, I’m not saying that whitewashing is less problematic in contemporary or historical fiction, I’m saying that I see more crazed arguments to defend whitewashing in secondary world fantasy.)

Let me say this about the made-up races statements: stories invented aren’t made in a vacuum. This includes fantasy. The stories created in the fantasy genre borrow heavily from our world, through mythology, culture, and whatnot. Therefore, in short, the humans depicted in fantasy are reflective of our world and racial depiction does matter.

As for the whole “why can’t they be white” argument, by choosing to embrace a world wherein everyone can be white despite when faced with contrary evidence within the text itself, you are buying into systematic racism that assumes the default will always be White, down to even in your imagination when visualizing fictional characters.

(On a tangent, I find such remarks irksome because damn, it must be nice to be able to assume that every frickin person looks like you even when up against evidence to the contrary. [/snark])

Giving this cover a POC face will heal our stunted imagination to assume all characters are white by default. We, the audience, nowadays are so used to absorbing visual data (helloooooooooo television. ♥), hence making covers a very powerful tool in marketing and in affecting the impressions on the reader. By giving the cover a POC face, you’ll allow the dark-skinned girl in OUR world to dream of being a heroine in her own imagination. That is something I believe is worth fighting for.

With that said, I hope we as consuming readers can continue fighting the whitewashing of covers. Whitewashing isn’t a one-time mistake, but an ingrained racist business practice in the publishing sector. To name a few off the top of my head: Whale Talk, She’s So Money, Mysterious Benedict Society, and The Dragons and the Stars (Which I’m still trying to talk about, and I’m working on my post. But, I suppose I will confess: when I saw Liar and Magic Under Glass, I was fuelled with rage. But when I saw The Dragon and the Stars cover, it was like a physical blow, and I felt like crying, a sentiment akin to defeat. But it’s been a couple days since I’ve seen that cover, and, I think, I have distanced myself more from the initial pain and can try and talk about it relatively soon.)

And do consider supporting POC books by seeking them out. My biggest and personal favourite resource is Writers of Color 50 Books Challenge, and Susan has an amazing link roundup to POC resources. Check it out.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Almonds, Book Links and A Story for Haiti

Got Almonds?


Almond Eyes


Other Fiction Related Links:

On Cultural Appropriation - Mostly romance genre, YA gets nod.
Reading in Colour - Quotes Peggy Mackintosh's essay and an epic POC books reclist (okay, so it's mostly African authors and veryyyyyy little of other POC authors, but what I like about this list is that she gives recs for ALL genres and even non-fiction. That's not something I see everyday.)

And also, there's an excellent fundraising effort out there called A Story for Haiti wherein authors put up stories for free and you donate whatever you think the story you read/liked was worth to help with the Haitian earthquake.

I've skimmed through a large part of them and here are some of the ones I liked:

The Effluent Engine by N. K. Jemisin
Rocket Kumar by Samit Basu
What You Don't Know Can Still Hurt You by Aditya Bidikar
In the Halls of the Sky-Palace by Nancy Fulda

Most of the stories are written in English, but there's also some stories written in Portuguese as well.

Please do consider donating when you read a story you liked.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

In My Mailbox - 01/17/2010

(Meme from The Story Siren)


The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

He is a brilliant math Professor with a peculiar problem--ever since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory. She is an astute young Housekeeper, with a ten-year-old son, who is hired to care for him. And every morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are introduced to each other anew, a strange and beautiful relationship blossoms between them. Though he cannot hold memories for long (his brain is like a tape that begins to erase itself every eighty minutes), the Professor’s mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. And the numbers, in all of their articulate order, reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her young son. The Professor is capable of discovering connections between the simplest of quantities--like the Housekeeper’s shoe size--and the universe at large, drawing their lives ever closer and more profoundly together, even as his memory slips away. The Housekeeper and the Professor is an enchanting story about what it means to live in the present, and about the curious equations that can create a family.

- I'm about halfway through, SO FRICKIN GOOD, READ THIS EVERYONE, NINEFLY ESPECIALLY, YOU HEAR ME?!?!?! Unless the ending somehow impossibly disappoints, I'm gonna run to the bookstore to find a copy of my own. Highly recommended, y'all. ♥

Children of the Waters by Carleen Brice

Trish Taylor’s white ancestry never got in the way of her love for her black ex-husband, or their mixed race son, Will. But when Trish’s marriage ends, she returns to her family’s Denver, Colorado home to find a sense of identity and connect to her past.
What she finds there shocks her to the very core: her mother and newborn sister were not killed in a car crash as she was told. In fact, her baby sister, Billie Cousins, is now a grown woman; her grandparents had put her up for adoption, unwilling to raise the child of a black man.
Billie, who had no idea she was adopted, wants nothing to do with Trish until a tragedy in Billie’s own family forces her to lean on her surprisingly supportive and sympathetic sister. Together they unravel age-old layers of secrets and resentments and navigate a path toward love, healing, and true reconciliation.

- Diverse characters! Sister bonding! Family stuff! What more can one want out of a novel, really?

Written On Your Skin by Meredith Duran

Beauty, charm, wealthy admirers: Mina Masters enjoys every luxury but freedom. To save herself from an unwanted marriage, she turns her wiles on a darkly handsome stranger. But Mina's wouldbe hero is playing his own deceptive game. A British spy, Phin Granville has no interest in emotional entanglements...until the night Mina saves his life by gambling her own.

Four years later, Phin inherits a title that frees him from the bloody game of espionage. But memories of the woman who saved him won't let Phin go. When he learns that Mina needs his aid, honor forces him back into the world of his nightmares.

Deception has ruled Mina's life just as it has Phin's. But as the beauty and the spy match wits in a dangerous dance, their practiced masks begin to slip, revealing a perilous attraction. And the greatest threat they face may not be traitors or murderous conspiracies, but their own dark desires....

- *wrings hands* Please don't let there be any Orientalism, please don't let there be any Orientalism...

Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan

Jameela and her family live in a poor, war-torn village in Afghanistan. Even with her cleft lip and lack of educational opportunities, Jameela feels relatively secure, sustained by her Muslim faith and the love of her mother, Mor. But when Mor dies, Jameela’s father impulsively decides to start a new life in Kabul. Jameela is appalled as he succumbs to alcohol and drugs, then suddenly remarries, a situation that soon has her a virtual slave to a demanding stepmother. After she’s discovered trying to learn to read, Jameela is abandoned in a busy market, eventually landing in an orphanage run by the same army that killed so many members of her family. Throughout it all, the memory of her mother sustains her, giving Jameela the strength to face her father and stepmother when fate brings them together again. Inspired by a true story, and set in a world far removed from that of Western readers, this powerful novel reveals that the desire for identity and self-understanding is universal.

-Whut a Canadian YA author wrote a book with non-white characters?! Pinch me, please.


Birthday Girl by Diane J. Wright


Saturday, January 16, 2010

STOP FAILING BLOOMSBURY, aka The Bloomsbury Whitewashing Cover Legacy, Redux

So, I'm sure that everyone remembers the Liar cover controvery, right? (And if not, here's a gathered links roundup to find out.) There was a big brouhaha over it, then Bloomsbury decided to redo the covers and we all sighed with relief, thinking that after all the emails and blog posts and comments, Bloomsbury finally realized that whitewashing is not down.

Then, I come acroos this post


Okay, basic summary of the situation: There is a debut novel out there called Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore, and our protagonist is apparently written into the text as dark-skinned.


... Damn, I don't know about you, but that girl there sure looks whitey-white to me!!

And GUESS WHO MADE THE COVER FOR THIS BOOK? That's right, BLOOMSBURY. Aka the same publishing house who did the Liar cover. Dun, dun, dun.

It was like Bloomsbury's last minute change to the Liar cover was just a bandaid. Oh the blogging audience is protesting, we'll change the Liar cover so that they'll stop spreading the bad press! Surely there's no actual truth to the idea that whitewashing is a long, historical problematic practice in the publishing land that still continues to this day and we are only appeasing the crowd because we're benevolent like that!

Well you know what, Bloomsbury? You just lost yourself an audience member here. As they say, fool me once, shame on you; fool me TWICE, shame on me. I'm sure that Magic Under Glass is a lovely novel, but I won't pay a cent for it if it means I have to support this particular publishing house. I can wait for a copy to turn up in my library or in a second hand bookstore to read it, thank you very much. There are other publishing houses starting up that BELIEVE in diversity (such as TU Publishing and Verb Noire) and I believe my money will be better spent there.

Also, I'm simply FILLED with curiousity over the history in Bloomsbury's whitewashing cover practices. Will do my best to look into that, but for now, will be off to write Very Angry Emails to the marketing staff. Later, peeps.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Review: Ash by Malinda Lo

Title: Ash
Author(s): Malinda Lo
Genre: YA Fairy Tale Retelling
Page Count: 264
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

The Summary:Cinderella retold

In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

The Review: Hmm, after having finished reading the novel, my feelings were mixed and I mostly felt torn. One side of me was all super gushy and melting over the Kaisa/Ash pairing, and my other half was left ambivalent about the rest. Thinking back, I think it’s due to my lack of love for the Cinderella tale in general, and the whole pseudo-white medieval setting Lo had going on. I’m not sure how much I was affected by the fact that I read this post by Malinda Lo wherein she said that she imagined her cast as Asian before having read the novel. I tried, and I tried to buy it, that the cast were Asian but I just couldn’t. I wrestled with this in myself and wondered why can’t I imagine this fairy tale world with people who look like me. It’s most definitely not because one of the girl has green eyes and the other girl is a brunette because I know Asians who have such features and they are most certainly not mixed. And I think, after reading Zetta Elliott’s review of Ash, a large part of it had to do with the way beauty is described in this novel. It felt to me like a very white standard of who is considered beautiful, from the “jeweled” glittering, awesomely coloured eyes to the “golden” silken hair to the “ethereal” paleness of the skin, all used as examples of beauty. This, plus the European-inspired pseudo-medieval setting made me equate the general populous of this novel as white. I’m so resigned and used to medieval fantasy excluding all non-white persons from their stories, and this novel failed to show a “medieval” fantasy that can include non-white characters.

[...Though, as an aside, if I streeeeeeeeeetch my imagination, I can kind of picture Kaisa as Asian, due to her name and the bit about her being from the “South” which I may be reading too much into it. (Even I feel like I’m grasping at straws over this.) Though, any of these tiny little hopes were largely crushed by the eyes thing; her Very Awesome Green Eyes of Awesome is off-putting. (Not that I don’t think green eyes are nice, but it’s such a white beauty standard thing, to emphasize Awesomely Coloured Eyes.) I could picture a short haired!Kuroki Meisa as an Asian Badass Huntress Kaisa. (Kuroki Meisa is SO BUTCH. *bricked*)]

Apart from all that, another thing I felt torn about is the writing. This shocked me, because I’ve seen rave reviews on the writing in Ash so I didn’t think it’d be a problem for me… But it was! Yes, I see that she has a lovely way of describing nature and the world around her, and her phrases would on occasion take me by surprise by the sheer beauty of her words, but it bogs down a little for me because she keeps dragging out her sentences with ‘and’s. (I’m almost positive I’ve seen her use the word “and” over six times in a sentence and that should just not be allowed.) Seriously, I bet I could find a sentence that lasts like, five lines long. It’s nowhere near as awful as Hemingway gets with his carry-on sentences, but it does put me off a little. I’m a fan of the short, concise sentences in the fictional writing school and Lo is anything but. So the whole time I was reading, I would spend half the time wrestling with her neverending sentences and the other have gasping at her beautiful descriptions (the ones of the Wood are my favourite.) This was especially so with the first half of the novel (by the second half I was invested in the story to the point where I just stopped caring as much and stopped letting it interfere with my reading enjoyment time). So I guess it’s a love-hate relationship? Lol. Strangest feeling, to love and hate a writing style at the same time…

Going back to my reservations on the Cinderella story itself: When I read retellings of stories that I’m not particularly fond of, the more they turn away and/or subvert the original source, the more I like it. Unfortunately for me, the first half of the novel was pretty much sticking to the original source like glue, with slight deviances over the Sidhaen thing. I must have started Ash like, 5 times over before I finally got past the first part of the novel and barreled through to the end. (I think the only way I got through the first half was my weaknesses for the insert fairy tales sprinkled in. I suspect I may have liked some of the fairy tales told more than the storyline of the novel itself, but that’s another thing altogether.) I wish I liked the first half more, because I like the conception of Sidhaen as a character, but he was a bit too distant for me to get a good feel of him and I stopped liking Sidhaen as a character by his own right the second they mentioned the whole Sidhaen knowing her mother and waiting for the right time to “claim” Ash thing. At that point I was like, way too sketch and pedo for me there, have to run away from that ship while the good gets going.

But once I hit the second half, I finally started enjoying this novel. (YAY the positives in this review are finally here, lol.) Because, Kaisa and Ash? Too dork-ily adorable. (They bond over telling each other fairy tales and go horseback riding! *gushes*) In fact, by the end of the novel I was like, “come on, that was it?! I need more Kaisa and Ash date scenes!” I liked them not so much because there was a lot of passion behind their budding romance (in fact, it’s the exact opposite), but because of the interesting juxtaposition with the relationship between Ash and Sidhaen, and just, the sweet fairy tale romance of a woman falling in love with a woman and it didn’t matter one whit to anyone. (Huh, so I guess that kind of means I like the idea of Kaisa/Ash more than I like the couple themselves? *sadface* I would totally have liked this couple by their own right if they had more SCENES THOUGH, I’m sure.)
Another thing I loved about the second half was that the subversions in Cinderella finally shone through! I loved the role of Sidhaen as the revamped fairy godmother. So many interesting things about that aspect that I really, really don’t want to spoil, so I’ll just say that fairy godmother as now the dark, sexy and very creepy fairy prince letting Cinderella go to the ball in exchange for having her as a “bride”? Is awesome. Also, the way Ash just did not care about the Prince at the ball and spent all that time looking for Kaisa instead made me grin. (This is starting to feel spoilery… I can’t help it! All the things I like that I want to talk about are in the second half!)

Okay, so since I can’t talk about the ending without spoiling, I will have spoiler here MAJOR SPOILERS FOR ENDING DON'T READ IF YOU HAVEN'T READ BOOK YET: [I liked the concept of Ash saving herself when she confronts Sidhaen, but it was a bit of a letdown because we didn’t actually see it happen. In fact, there was just not enough of the fairy world in general. But then, you know, we got hot huntress makeout scene at the end so I was alleviated from this minor disappointment.]

Some other tiny quibbles: How women of high born status who weren’t Ash were EVIL EVIL EVIL (unless they’re motherly and dead) and only those who like Ash are Good. I was really frustrated with Lady Isobel because she was just this awful 2D villain. Honestly, by the end of it, Isobel’s villany was pushing on comical. Also, you’d think that with the Cinderella premise you could push at the whole class thing a little more but that was mostly unexplored here.

By the end of the novel, I was left feeling gushy Kaisa/Ash shippy but also wanting more out of the story as well. It’s like, I felt that the novel had a lot of potential to go further than it did, but it didn’t take that extra step. And I wanted more on the Huntresses! Not just tidbits here and there from fairy tales! Oh well, I guess this means I’ll be scavenging for a copy of Huntress. Malinda Lo said something in her blog (if I'm remembering this correctly) about making the characters in her next novel more distinctly Asian, and I’m being cautiously optimistic about this. Very, very cautious. With sprinkled bouts of pessimism here and there.

The Verdict: Mixed feelings, and I'm still not a fan of the first half. But things got going during the second half and to be honest, when I got to the last page and watched Kaisa and Ash end up together, I was grinning like a fool. Good endings that make me feel warm and fuzzy inside can get me to forgive almost everything about the novel. Also! The random fairy tales told! I liked that a lot~

Rating: 2.5/5
Enjoyment: 70%

Title and Cover Discussion: Ash is one of those covers and titles wherein I look at it and actually have nothing to critique because it fits the novel beautifully AND it's incredibly gorgeous. ♥ Seriously beautiful, the kind of cover that just draws you in. Also, not entirely related, but I loved the decorated first letters of every chapter. The whole look of this book added to the fairy tale feel. *grins*

Title: A
Cover: A+


Discussion Question For Readers: lol because I'm curious, for those who've read the novel, which was your favourite fairy tale insert? There's a lot that I liked, but I have a special fondness for that Niamh one, the huntress fairy tale Kaisa told Ash.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

In My Mailbox - 01/10/2010

(Meme from The Story Siren)

So I'm dropping the total book count from my title, because I've been informed that it's too confusing to see random letters there next to the date and the last thing I wanna do is confuse people who see my posts, so... Voila!

Pictures of the bought only. I'd take a pic of my library books but my camera is not cooperating so... ETA later? lolETA: Top Photo is books bought, bottom photo is books borrowed. Books will be discussed from Top to Bottom, Left to Right (when applicable)

The Tally:
Bought: ETA 9
Borrowed: 7
Received: 0
TOTAL = ETA 16!!

NOTE: All summaries (with the exception of the Floating World, which is from Amazon.Com) are from GoodReads.Com

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy 101 & Final Tags of One Lovely Blog Awards (With some babbles. Because that's what I do)

I'm happy. Are you happy?

So far since I’ve started this book blog late last year I’ve received 3 blog awards. They make me very happy upon initially receiving them, but then I start going into panic mode.

Allow me to illustrate:

EMAIL: You’ve got a blog award!
Me: YAY!!! *dances* I am the most awesome person in the entire world.
POST: Now that you’ve got this award, pass it on to a hundred people!
Me: OKAY! So I know this one blog, and this other one and… Oh gawd, I don’t know any more blogs!! CLEARLY THIS MEANS I SUCK AND DON’T SOCIAL NETWORK ENOUGH AND I MUST HIDE IN MY CORNER OF SHAME.

Yeah, so I? Am basically a complete spaz with the maturity age of my shoe size somewhat highly strung. I am not the best person to be around when school test results comes in… (Unless you like to laugh at the sight of my panic-striken expression, that is. I’ve been told it’s quite funny.)

But this is not a confession post on my somewhat-highly-strung ways. This is in fact, a post to reveal that something saved me from going into my usual panic mode! So this is how it went:

Me: YAY YAY YAY!! … Oh gawd, after all these months, do I really still not know enough blogs to fulfill the rules?
BLOGGER DASHBOARD: You haz followers.

Yes, all my lovely, shiny followers, it is YOU who have saved me. You all make me happy and I can think of no other who deserves a Happy 101 Award than y’all. ♥

List 10 things that make you happy. Try and do at least one of them today.

1) Reading Novels/Manga/Manhwa/Fanfiction
2) Watching TV Shows/Movies (Mostly US/UK/KR/JP/TW)
3) Book shopping. Especially if there’s bargains
4) Knee-high socks. The more colourful the better
5) Going into the movie theatre.
6) Talking with friends, wherein I can babble about nothing and they won’t mind.
8) Toronto
9) Malaysia
10) My family, even if they’re loud and do not believe in knocking before walking into my room. ♥

Tag 10 bloggers that brighten your day. Link back to the person that tagged you.

1) Reading in Color
2) Fiction Hunter
3) Edge of Seventeen
4) Bookalicious Ramblings
5) Missy's Book Nook
6) The Sweet Bonjour
7) Book Rat
8) In Which A Girl Reads
9) Opinionated? Me?
10) Brizmus Blogs Books

(Happy 101 Award was given to me by ninefly from story on a page. She is epic, and if I could re-tag, I'd totally retag you, babe. ♥)

And I'm finallyyyyy gonna be done awarding the One Lovely Blog Award! =D

The Rules:
1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2) Pass the award to 15 other blogs you've recently discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

11. Who, What, When, Where, Why
12. Book Love Affair
13. su[shu]: a girl finds comfort in her books
14. Love Letters to Forever
15. Reading is Good for You

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Review: Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

Title: Bleeding Violet
Author(s): Dia Reeves
Genre: YA Rural/Town Fantasy
Page Count: 454
Publisher: Simon Pulse

The Summary: Love can be a dangerous thing....

Hanna simply wants to be loved. With a head plagued by hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet stuffed with frilly, violet dresses, Hanna's tired of being the outcast, the weird girl, the freak. So she runs away to Portero, Texas in search of a new home.

But Portero is a stranger town than Hanna expects. As she tries to make a place for herself, she discovers dark secrets that would terrify any normal soul. Good thing for Hanna, she's far from normal. As this crazy girl meets an even crazier town, only two things are certain: Anything can happen and no one is safe.

--Summary from cover flap

The Review: Wow. So much love for this book, I don’t even know where to start! I read the excerpt for the first chapter about a month ago and was really excited about this new novel. (Also the whole bit about this being a novel written for NaNoWriMo. That's pretty cool too.) First of all, I think the reason why I enjoyed this novel so much was because of Hanna. She’s an awesome narrator and definitely my favourite character of the lot. Hanna is i-n-s-a-n-e, not in the oh-she’s-so-quirky-and-interesting but as in she has mental illness. I think Dia Reeves portrayed this aspect of Hanna extremely well, and it spiced up the whole extremely common premise of New Girl Moves to Small Town and Discovers Magical Beings, etc, making this novel stand out. I really liked getting into Hanna’s head, the off-kilter way she would react to things, and just other stuff about her like her purple dresses she sews herself, how the fact that she is biracial (Half-Black, Half-Fin) influences the way she sees herself and her ability to adapt to new situations, her confidence in her looks, and her habit of saying “Unbelievable”. (Er, I could just go on, but I think we all get the fact that I think Hanna is Awesome. =D)

Actually, I just really liked Reeves’ whole approach to this world she created in general, from Hanna’s reactions to seeing stuff (Hanna’s reactions the first few days were like, hmm, I thought I took my pills today, guess they haven’t kicked in yet. *walks past those bloodstained windows like she saw nothing*) to the portrayal of the fantastical in this world. The creatures are batshit scary and feel very real, things that will kill you if you walk down the wrong street. And how the people of the town are deeply influenced by their knowledge of these monsters that lurk their town, how it shapes them from their behavior to what they wear to just, their physical selves and their telltale scars. I bought into the world Reeves’ created completely, and really enjoyed reading about the fantastical side of this novel.

I get the feeling that the biggest character relationship that readers will get into is the Wyatt/Hanna romance. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love me some Wyatt, and the whole “You’re going to hurt him” stuff people keep going on to Hanna about only added to my enjoyment of this couple and their interactions. (Has that star-crossed taste to it, and I love me some star-crossed lovers.) I liked how they both weren’t quite normal, and how they fit together on more or less equal grounds in this relationship that isn’t exactly the healthiest of relationships. But the biggest character interaction that grabbed me by the heart and had me clenching my teeth with the tension and the heartbreaks was with Hanna and her mom, Rosalee. At the end of the day, I read this book for Hanna’s attempts to connect with her mother, and vice versa. I mean, say what you want about Wyatt/Hanna, but in terms of higher stakes and messed-up factor, Rosalee’s estranged relationship with her daughter’s got Wyatt and Hanna’s relationship beat. I loved watching how they pulled and pushed at each other, with Rosalee’s cold attempts to push her daughter away and Hanna’s fierce, fiery desperation to win a place as a daughter in her mother’s heart. They hurt each other and love each other in all the wrong ways and it’s such a broken, shattered, imperfect family but I desperately wanted them to stay together by the end of it. *

The book was a really fast fluid read, and I couldn’t put it down until I was finished every single last word of it. I was delighted by each and every turn the direction of the story went, and the story always manages to shock and put in twists that didn’t feel jarring or out of place. (I did think the Key stuff was a little overdone, but the Key gave me this really awesome mother-daughter interaction scene, so who am I to complain?) The writing was solid and serviceable. It didn’t stick out to me it jarring ways, but at the same time it didn’t wow or stand out for me either. But, honestly? With a cast like this and the crazy town of monster-infested Portero, who’s going to care? I had a blast reading this as Reeves took me for a roller coaster ride, and I enjoyed every second of it. Read it, read it, read it.

The Verdict: Dude, I travelled all the way downtown just so I could buy this on the release day. I had to walk 5 streetlights outside in the freezing cold because the subway shut down and by the time I got to the bookstore, bought it, and came back home, my legs were frozen solid. But was it worth it? DAMN STRAIGHT IT WAS. The year of 2010 just started but I can definitely tell that this is gonna be one of my Top Favourite Debuts of this year. Awesome premise, awesome characters, with one of the ruinous and moving mother-daughter interactions I’ve read in ages plus a nice dash of epic crazy, readers will be in for an amazing treat.

Rating: 4.5/5
Enjoyment: !!!100%!!!

Title and Cover Discussion: I really love the title! It sounds awesome, and I keep associating ‘Violet’ with ‘Violent’ in my mind and it totally fits with the very vicious battles that raged all throughout this novel, and the violence of the characters in general. The only thing is that, I think the violet is referring to Hanna’s dresses, but she never calls them ‘violet’, but ‘purple’. I kinda wished that Reeves went back and changed all the ‘purple’ words into ‘violet’ to have continuity with the title, but this is just a nitpick, really. Now, the COVER. Omfg so gorgeous. If the Simon & Schuster company ever decided to make a poster out of this cover I’d buy it in a heartbeat. I looooove the violet dresses in the background, the font, the colours, EVERYTHING. ♥ ♥ One of the best covers I’ve ever seen.

Title: A-
Cover: A+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

*I was also amused by all the talk of the “Price fascination” when it came to Rosalee Price and her ability to draw in men to her side. Reminded me of Senjogahara. Those who’ve watched Bakemonogatari will know what I’m talking about.

NEW REVIEW FEATURE I'm gonna have a Mister Linky thing so that those who want to see other people's opinion on this novel can easily click on the links below and find these other links. Now, me and ninefly had a veryyyyyyyyyy brief talk about linking to other people's reviews and how it can be biased because you'll link to the review you like or seek out. So, to avoid this, it's a mister Linky so that other people can add links to reviews I haven't seen, etc etc. Please feel free to help out by adding links yourselves, etc etc.

NOTE: Please link to the review post and NOT the main website/blog. =D

This Book counts for my 2010 challenges

Sunday, January 3, 2010

In My Mailbox - (5) 01/03/2010

(Meme from The Story Siren)

So, I bought two books this week!

Ash by Malinda Lo
In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

- Finally bought it! Hope it ends up being good~

Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Sixteen-year-old Amal makes the decision to start wearing the hijab full-time and everyone has a reaction. Her parents, her teachers, her friends, people on the street. But she stands by her decision to embrace her faith and all that it is, even if it does make her a little different from everyone else.

Can she handle the taunts of "towel head," the prejudice of her classmates, and still attract the cutest boy in school? Brilliantly funny and poignant, Randa Abdel-Fattah's debut novel will strike a chord in all teenage readers, no matter what their beliefs.

- I've read this novel this summer and came across this novel in the bargain section for... Wait for it... 2 BUCKS!!! 2 FRICKIN BUCKS!! FOR THE HARDCOVER!! AND IT WAS THE LAST COPY!! I grabbed it and held it to my chest with a frenzied, crazed look in my eyes, directed at all those suspicious, malicious people who may try to take this book away from me. (I joke, of course! Or am I? =D) Steal of the week, baby. ♥

Swapped w/ ninefly
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
The Cold Spot by Tom Piccirilli

ETA: Holy shit and I almost forgot to mention - I got a belated xmas gift from my friend: The UK copy of Demon's Lexicon!!! And she gave me a Barcelona bookmark as well. My friends are the best. =D


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Review: Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger

Title: Shine, Coconut Moon
Author(s): Neesha Meminger
Genre: YA Contemporary lit
Page Count: 253
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

The Summary:: Seventeen-year-old Samar -- a.k.a. Sam -- has never known much about her Indian heritage. Her mom has deliberately kept Sam away from her old-fashioned family. It's never bothered Sam, who is busy with school, friends, and a really cute but demanding boyfriend.

But things change after 9/11. A guy in a turban shows up at Sam's house, and he turns out to be her uncle. He wants to reconcile the family and teach Sam about her Sikh heritage. Sam isn't sure what to do, until a girl at school calls her a coconut -- brown on the outside, white on the inside. That decides it: Why shouldn't Sam get to know her family? What is her mom so afraid of? Then some boys attack her uncle, shouting, "Go back home, Osama!" and Sam realizes she could be in danger -- and also discovers how dangerous ignorance can be. Sam will need all her smarts and savvy to try to bridge two worlds and make them both her own. (Summary from cover flap)

The Review: I’m so, so glad that I got to finally finish this novel, since the last time I had the book in my hands I had to return it to the library even though I was barely a couple chapters in, or suffer fines. This novel really had me by the heartstrings. I was cheering, laughing, crying and hurting all the way through. It was a really great read, and also not what I expected - I walked in expecting a novel about racial identity and racial prejudice, and while that is very much a part of the story, the theme that struck the biggest chord with me was the family themes.

Okay, okay, but first, let’s back up a bit. Confession: I find that my impressions of a novel are often influenced by who ends up being my favourite character in the novel. I fully expected to get into Samar’s head and sympathize with her the most, etc. Instead, I ended up falling in love with the uber adorable, dorky, wouldn’t-hurt-a-fly Uncle Sandeep, paunch and all. He was too cute! I don't care if he's too old for me.. I loved Uncle Sandeep’s interactions with his sister, aka Samar’s mother, the most, and the little stories of their shared childhood past they use against one another. They have this sibling banter that’s sweet and can be a little mean in the having-grown-up-together-as-a-family way. His goal upon landing on Samar’s house was to reunite his family, and as such, I ended up taking away the family themes the most, them making the biggest impressions on my mind.

A big part of the story’s drive, next to Samar’s search for her Sikh roots, is her desire to reunite with her grandparents, her extended family. And I love how Meminger took this further, that this wasn’t just about having a copycat Molly version of a big family gathering of fun, but being part of a family is tied with a sense of history, that you have generations and generations of people who look like you and have a common past. It’s a sense of being rooted and anchored, I think, and I liked how her search for her family and history gives Samar a bigger sense of self.

This novel was, for me, filled with little moments of human interaction that took me by the heart. Like the times when Samar leans for her mother into a hug, or the moment when Samar was in the gurdwara. Also, there was this part where Samar made friends with Balvir, a South Asian, and Balvir had this whole talk about how Sikh’s weren’t Muslim and then Shazia says “Balvir, you want to distinguish between Sikhs and Muslims because of… what? Do you think that the violence will be less if you do?” (213) This, along with the Japanese internment camp comparisons made in the novel to 9/11, struck me because it reminded me of what happened post-Pearl Harbour attack. When the Japanese were viewed as “the enemy”, I remember reading that in the US, the Chinese population started wearing these “I am a Chinese” buttons, as if separating us from them would make a difference, would lessen the race-driven hate crimes, the hostilities. I felt like there was this common theme of the past being reflected in the present, from the little things like how Samar sees herself and her mom in her grandmother’s eyes to the Japanese internment camp links, and being into history, I like that.

There were also many painful moments in the novel, especially between Samar and her jerk of a boyfriend, Mike. Everything he said, from the moment he was all to Samar “You could pass for a Mexican”, it stung. (Also, he was a jerk about Uncle Sandeep and no one messes with my favourite character!!!) And the family reunion wasn’t all sweet and happy. After all, in the story, this family has been separated and broken for many years and the gap can’t be closed so easily. There were painful moments, words spoken to one another, past wounds reopened, but I honestly loved watching just the sheer effort of trying to bring the family back together again. It reflects that importance of having a family, of being part of a group that’s bigger than you, that roots you to a common history. This kind of thing is worth fighting for, worth sorting out past misunderstandings and hurts for.

What else is there to say? The characters felt real, the writing was fluid and easy to get into, etc etc. The whole 9/11 setting was good in the sense that I really liked how Meminger used it to draw attention to how the past is repeating itself and how the fear starts these series of hate crimes towards those who look like “the enemy” but there were little minor things here and there that didn’t add up for me, that detracted a little from the story. I don’t remember the year of 9/11 clearly, but I’m pretty sure that Project Runway wasn’t around at that time and a quick wiki reminded me that this was so. Krista in her review caught on to more of these little discrepancies that I missed. It detracted from the whole sense of time and place of USA post 9/11, but not enough for me to stop enjoying the read.

The Verdict: On the whole, a very enjoyable read with great themes of identity and family, brilliant characters and little moments that evoke great emotions within the reader. I’d recommend this novel to anyone. If nothing else, read it for the adorable Uncle Sandeep of adorable-ness. Sweetest guy ever, I swear. ♥ (HOW is he divorced? I’d marry him)

Rating: 4/5
Enjoyment: 100%

Title and Cover Discussion: lol Shine, Coconut Moon is one of those titles that didn't make sense to me when I first see it, but comes together if you read the novel. Points for having a title that actually is related to the story (so many titles, I find, are just so random and unrelated. T_T) but minus points for title that doesn't make its meaning clear when you see it. Like, for instance, when I first saw this title I thought that maybe there was some kid in this novel not yet revealed in the summary called Coconut Moon (and named by drugged up hippie parents). But hey, it's an interesting title if a little bizarre at first sight, so w/e~. Now, the cover. 1) I hate, hate, hate faceless covers, and this one commits the crime of not only haven't one faceless person, but two. Also, I have this sinking suspicion that the guy next to Samar is her douche of a boyfriend and RAWR MAI HAIT. *kicks loser boyfriend* I think Uncle Sandeep and her mom Sharan should have been in the cover with Samar instead. Or maybe just Uncle Sandeep. I can deal with that.

Title: B-
Cover: F (I wanted to pass this cover, but I HATE THE LOSER BOYFRIEND. Sorry, peeps.)