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, February 28, 2010

February Social Justice: Water


This month's theme for the Social Justice Challenge is Water. I will admit that when it comes to water, I don't really think much about it. It's something that I've always taken for granted. when I'm thirsty there's always water available for me to drink. Both hot and cold faucets work, and my throat has never grown parched from the lack of water availability. But I've been scanning through articles related to water issues, and they got me to start thinking. Especially about the dwindling availability to water, which is so integral to our survival, and the commoditization of water. A lot of the articles I've been coming across were depressing and scary and sad, and I think I ought to make a self-resolution on what actions I can take to personally save on water...

But enough about me and my fumblings. I'd like to point out an article I found most fascinating and informative:

How Peru is netting water supplies - I am in love with the concept of capturing fog as a source of water. 8D And I liked how it followed up with the realities of Peru and the water crisis at hand, how change must be had.

Also:



Perhaps these are a little too feel good, but I think it's also important to see hopeful, possible solutions to the water crisis, y/n?

Do also consider checking out the reviews written for this month. I'm particularly excited now to read Frank Herbert's Dune from this review. Or if you feel like recommending an article/documentary/book/anything related to this water issue, or any action steps I can take, please do let me know in the comments

Review: 8th Grade Superzero


Title: 8th Grade Superzero
Author(s): Olubgemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Genre: MG Contemporary Coming-of-Age
Page Count: 324
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books

The Summary: For middle schooler Reggie McKnight, being called “Pukey” is the least of his problems. School elections are coming up, but he’s as far away from being school President as he is from shutting down his enemy Donovan or meeting up with the beautiful Mialonie. His friends Ruthie and Joe C. have his back, but let’s face it: Reggie can only be a superhero on the pages of his graphic novel, Night Man.

Then Reggie gets involved with a local homeless shelter, the Olive Branch. Haunted by two of the clients there -- George, a once proud man now living on the streets, and five-year-old Charlie, who becomes his official “Little Buddy” -- he begins to think about making a difference, both in the world and at school.

-- from goodreads, though I omitted the last sentence, as it was spoilery.

The Review: I basically inhaled this novel between the hours from the time I had breakfast to lunch. It was adorable! I wasn’t even put off by the superhero stuff! (Note: Not a fan of superhero genre.) Reggie was lovable, and I really liked how he makes mistakes that not ONLY are acknowledged within the text, but he owns up to his mistakes and apologizes to the wronged party later. It’s nice to see our protagonists not being Always Right. I also liked how Rhuday-Perkovic handled Reggie volunteering at Olive Branch and the homeless residents, how helping out became gradually more and more important to him. And it was tres cool that there were a number of kids in the cast who were concerned with social and/or global issues. It wasn’t done in such a way that I thought these middle graders were acting too old for their age, and also I can see how giving this book to a middle grader can make them think about these issues at hand.

But my favourite part of this novel was Reggie’s relationships with the significant people in his life. I think, out of all of them, Reggie’s buddy relationship with Charlie was the sweetest. (Dora shoes!! ♥) I loved the every changing perceptions of each other, and how their actions influenced each other in good or bad ways. Reggie and Ruthie’s relationship was adorable too. Childhood friendships are the best!! Their love is trueeeeeeeee. (Who’s Mialonie again? =P) I even liked the sibling antagonisms between Reggie and Monica! These moments are always the ones that get me to switch sides from sympathizing with our protagonist Reggie to wholeheartedly supporting Monica. I love Reggie but he’s so clueless about girls. (And also, being a sister, with sibling arguments, I firmly believe that the sister ALWAYS wins. Natch.) Reggie and Monica’s talk was one of my favourite scenes in the whole novel. It was awkward, and loving in the only way squabbling siblings can be, and I love it. I loved seeing how, with siblings, you can be very cruel to one another, but when it comes down to it, you care, even when you don’t show it. I just wish there were more Reggie and Monica scenes. There is just not enough sibling interactions in MG/YA fiction.

If I have to complain about anything though, it’d be the villains. I know it’s from Reggie’s perspective, but Donovan’s villainy was a bit too 2D for me. We got a tiny glimpse of another side to his character, but it was never really developed so that we see Donovan is a character that went beyond his mean bully role. Vicky wasn’t quite as bad in comparison, but still, not as developed as I’d like. Also, while I knew Reggie’s mom was there, her presence wasn’t very strong, especially next to his father and sister. But these are just minor quibbles. The cast more or less satisfies me. I particularly appreciate how there were lots of minor characters around that, while we don’t see a lot of their background, we get just enough of them to feel like they have whole and separate lives beyond Reggie and not like, stock minor characters. =D

I liked the pacing. It was steady and gradual, building up to a good climax and finale. My favourite aspect was the fact that not everything stayed the same, and how we see people and people’s relationship with one another change over the course of the story. I also liked how multicultural the people in the story were, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY how, while their ethnic background is a factor of their identity, it is NOT the dominant driving force of the story. It’s so rare to find POC protagonists with stories that aren’t all about their racial identity, so I reallyyyyyy like that.

The Verdict: If you haven’t read this awesome debut yet you should definitely plan to. Reggie is a wonderful protagonist and it’s cute and funny and FUN and I am already forcing my youngest brother to read this, and basically this book comes highly recommended by me. READ IT!

Rating: 4/5
Enjoyment: 100%

Title and Cover Discussion: The title is absolutely PERFECT. I also am charmed by the cover. I love the colours and the yellow with the dark skyline and silhouette. It's very colour designed oriented, as oppose to, you know, the usual photo stock images or even illustrated covers, so it sticks out for me. I kinda wish the shoes at the top were Dora though. But that's really nothing to kibble over.

Title: A+!
Cover: A

Thank you Zetta, for mailing this to me!
This counts for POC and Debut 2010 reading challenge

Triple Snapshots of Feb '10 - Children of the Waters, The Housekeeper and the Professor, and Eon

Triple Snapshots is a feature in which I do 3 mini-reviews of novels on the last day of the month.

This month 2/3 of the books are POC related. [I don't care what people say about Eon, that book doesn't deserve a POC subject label)

Children of the Waters by Carleen Brice

I’ll have to admit, this novel was a bit slow for me at the beginning. This may or may not have been influenced by the fact that I was anticipating that sister reunion far sooner than it actually happened in the story, which I would like to blame on the summary, lol. But once the sisters meet, it was a non-stop roller coaster ride for me. The most fascinating aspect of Children of the Waters, for me anyhow, was the challenges to both sisters on the perception of family and race. Between the two sisters, I found Billie’s storyline on how she confronts having a ‘white’ sister the most compelling of the two. I’ll confess that there were moments when I was simply exasperated with Trish. Yes, I know she means well, but her cluelessness and her insistence on a “colourblind” world just made her seem rather na├»ve. It wasn’t that I hated Trish, quite the opposite: I’m honestly very fond of her attempts to connect with her sister. In fact, I did like all the characters and their flaws, and there were moments between Trish’s and her son Will’s exchange that either had me laughing out loud or veering off to the other spectrum, of sadness and pain. All in all, besides the thing Brice chose to do with the ending [SPOILERS: "I’m iffy about the whole Trish finding some shiny Japanese Zen Buddhist tradition to ~*heal*~ her sister, to be honest. Didn’t gel with me.] I really enjoyed this novel. =D

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa, trans. Stephen Snyder

O. M. G. This was AMAZING. Simply astounding. It grabbed me from page one and had me racing through till I got to the end. Heartrendering and beautiful and perfect, the type of novel that I’d go out and buy in a heartbeat. (FYI, borrowed this from the library) I loved how Ogawa told her story without ever giving names to her characters – indeed, I barely paused to wonder at why we never know the names. I liked the way Ogawa used the roles of the characters to refer to them, the exploration of the relationships between each cast member. I’ve seen a lot of reviews that say that they found the relationship between the Professor and the son Root the most compelling but I will admit that it was really the relationship between the Housekeeper and the Professor (as the title says) that grabbed me by the heart – possibly because it’s so much more fragile and transient. With the Professor and the Son, our Professor shows instant like towards the son even though he doesn’t remember the kid, whereas every time the Professor and the Housekeeper meet, the meeting is much harder in comparison. The absence of that connection should have estranged their relationship with one another, but each time they meet the ties that get newly formed every couple hours is beautiful in that evanescent way, like the view of autumn leaves, rendered beautiful because we know they won’t last. This book even managed the impossible and made me enjoy the MATH in the story, and anyone who knows me IRL knows how much I can’t take math. (ugh graphs *shudders*) For the time I spent reading this novel, I was a math convert and saw the beauty in numbers and equations. (… I can’t believe those words just came out of my mouth. SEE HOW AMAZING THIS BOOK IS?! It actually got my stubborn self to CHANGE MY MIND about math – for a moment.) Beautiful, and the translation was fluid and lovely as well and basically what I’m trying to say is that you HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK NOW. So good, so shelf-worthy. I can’t recommend this book enough.

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman

… Holy shit, what was this crap? This book is reminded me of all my reasons why my gut reaction is to always shrink whenever I see white authors trying to write out “Asian fantasies” - 99% of the time all I get is faux chinoiserie orientalist CRAP. The world screamed FAKE FAKE FAKE and omg the crappy gender relations was so awfully handled. It was like Goodman has this uber shallow understanding of the Yin/Yang concept and then just shoved in all her “modern” gender role theories into the novel and it was soooooo awful, it made me want to scream. And, just for good measure, when I managed to get to the END of the novel, the author’s notes goes as follows: “The Empire of the Celestial Dragons is not a real country or culture, It is a fantasy world that was at first inspired by the history and cultures of China and Japan, but rapidly became a land of imagination with no claim to historical or cultural authenticity.” (italics and bold mine) WAY TO RUB SALT TO THE WOUND. Not only was the worldbuilding awfully handled, but now I *also* know that she didn’t even TRY for authenticity and thorough research. Always nice to know. [/sarcasm] And you know what’s the worst part (for me)?! Not only did I read this all the way to the end, but I actually want to read the last book of this damn series. Don’t you hate how you get all attached to some stupid minor character and have to read to the bitter bitter end just to see how it goes? (Sounds familiar? Why yes, I am doing the same thing for the Darkest Powers series. Clearly I have a masochistic streak) Because I’m all fond of Lady Dela, who is a trangendered woman (transgender in my fantasy whut?!) and I so badly want her and Ryko to end up together. Which is terrible because some part of me tells me they’re going to end up with a tragic rocks-falls-everyone-dies kind of ending, or either be sacrificed as the loyal sidekicks to Eona’s awesomeness. So when the last book comes out and they don’t end up together, if you see me lying around in a sobbing mess and hating on everything and being generally useless, you now know why I’m in such a state.

IMM: New Crayons Galore! 02/28/2010

(In My Mailbox Meme from The Story Siren and New Crayons Meme from Color Online)

This week every single book I got were all POC-related, either by content or author or both. 8D And er, you’d think after blowing my money last week I would have learned to hold back a bit. But no! Too many shiny books out there to be bought! Namely the newly released Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and the fact that Michelle Sagara West was available for signings this week propelled me to buy the remaining two books of the Sun Sword series. I’m trying hard not to think about my dwindling funds in my bank account.



Books will be talked about from top to bottom, left to right, under the cut. 8D

Friday, February 26, 2010

Five Things - In Point Form

1. Did you see the new Magic Under Glass cover going around?! It's kind of ridiculously gorgeous. I'd talk more about it, but there's already other posts showing this cover and Steph Su basically said anything I would have wanted to say about this cover and more, and I already previously gave my two cents on POC faces in fantasy covers, so I'll shut up and just show everyone this cover so that y'all can bask in its beauty. This is totally a cover in which I support further reposts. I would not mind a new flurry of posts a la mockingspam if this was the featured cover. (Don't hurt me, Hunger Games Fans! I love the trilogy and am very excited for sequel, honest! I mock with love! 8D)

2. I just finished reading The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and OMFG SO GOOD. How can a book be so amazingly epic? I'm trying to refrain from saying too much (YEINE + NAHADOTH FOREVAAAAAAAAAAAR) because I want to have a long fleshed-out review to give the book the love it deserves, but right now I'm gonna show off the cover, which also has a POC face! (So much better than the german cover of fail) Also, I'd sell my soul for the next two books in the trilogy. For all those who haven't put this on their reading list/haven't bought it yet/whatever WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?! Go to the bookstore and get it now. I say this to right what is so wrongly missing from your reading experience. 8D Very thoughtful of my reading audience, I am.

3. SO MANY AWESOME POSTS BY AWESOME PEOPLE. Today, Book Smugglers has a lovely comprehensive post on Whitewashing Covers and Zetta Elliot has a Guest Post on Huffington Post about the UK Publishing Equalities Charter and it sounds promising and I am crossing my fingers that the publishing industry takes note and considers drawing up a similar charter. 8D Also, it's about a week old but N. K. Jemisin did another very interesting Describe Characters of Colour writeup, which I encourage everyone to check out.

4. Should I brave the snow to get my copies of Michelle West's Sun Sword series signed tomorrow? ... *looks at 10 cm of accumulated snow today and cries*

5. Anyone wanna give me some tips on how to further promote my giveaway contest? I already linked it to various sites such as Goodreads, Book Reader Times, The Black Cell, and Bookworming Through the 21st Century, and spam my twitter about it ever so often, but I was wondering if there are venues out there that I can link to that I'm currently unaware of.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - 02/23/2010

(Meme from Should Be Reading)

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!



Stars, clear and clean, a slowly spreading white fan across the ebony sky. The Festival of the Sun could seem, on a night like this, the custom of a foreign country, distant and unreal.

--pg. 565 of The Broken Crown by Michelle West

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chromatic Casting Meme: The Dark Divine - Kdrama style

Hahaha, I had to do the chromatic casting for The Dark Divine (review here) because, seriously, the storyline makes this TOO EASY. Also allows me to slack off on reviews while still feeling like I'm being productive. K-drama style, for obvious reasons.

So Ji Sub as Daniel



Mostly inspired by that moment in the novel where he goes from shaggy look to clean cut sexiness. So Ji Sub can look good in anything. ♥






Shin Min Ah as Grace



Because she's so sweet-faced, and I can totally see her as the pastor's daughter. Also, the DIMPLES. ♥






Hyun Bin as Jude


I had to shove in Hyun Bin, my first S.Korean celeb crush in, obviously. I know he often plays the cold arrogant guy with the soft heart inside, but I'm also just as sure that he can pull the role in reverse. And: DIMPLES. ♥ (I'm telling you, the Divine family is totally a dimpled-faced family. It's the Truth)




Chun Ho Jin as Father Divine



Influenced by his role in Will it Snow For Christmas. He can totally pull off the pastor look.








Song Ok Sook as Mother Divine



I didn't watch much of Smile (didn't like it, sorry) but what I remember of her, I thought she would make a good fit too. =D







Rain as Pete



Oh, I am so mean for doing this, but I can totally see him as the swarmy boyfriend type. Fans, don't kill me please.






I didn't bother including the rest of the Divine family or April because I just didn't have a good enough grasp of their characters to warrant a thoughtful(ish) casting. But, of course, if you'd like to make suggestions, I'm all ears.

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Giveaway Reminder: I'm holding my 1st 50 followers giveaway contest. You can win either Exclusively Chloe or Mountain Girl River Girl. Contest is open internationally

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 02/22/2010


(meme from bookjourney)

Completed Last Week (Hahaha, how behind on reviews am I? *dies*)
A Million Shades of Grey by Cynthia Kadohata
The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan
8th Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Freak Show by James St. James
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Deadtown by Nancy Holzner

Reading This Week
Ravenous by Sharon Ashwood
The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate
The Broken Crown by Michelle West
The Hakawati by Rabih Alameddine

Giveaway Reminder

Do consider entering my 1st 50 followers giveaway contest. You can win either Exclusively Chloe OR Mountain Girl River Girl and I am opening this contest internationally =D

Other Posts of Note

Chromatic Casting Meme: The Dark Divine - Kdrama Style

Sunday, February 21, 2010

In My Mailbox - 02/21/2010

(meme from The Story Siren)

lawl I had to make 2 photos for this book haul. *dies ever so slowly* Lazy IMM w/o goodreads links because I'm lazy.

THE BOUGHT AND THE MAILED:

Top to bottom, left to right (all bought unless I say otherwise):
Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner
The Fall of Kings by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman
The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner
A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliot, signed (Thanks for sending it, Zetta! ♥)
All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Louise Engdahl
8th Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, signed (Thanks again Zetta!)
The Uncrowned King by Michelle West
The Shining Court by Michelle West
Sea of Sorrows by Michelle West


w00t, I finally got my hands on the rest of Ellen Kushner's works! For 13 bucks, no less. *_* And yay for it going to count for my LGBT challenge. *_* As you can see, Zetta was amazing and sent over a marvelous package of the brand new awesome version of AWAM with the pretty cover, and 8th Grade Superzero which I finished and will have a review up this week. *crosses fingers* Anddddddd got my hands on most of the 1st half of the West's Sun Sword series. I'm that much closer to getting the whole complete set. *_*

THE BORROWED AND THE SWAG

Top to Bottom, left to Right:
The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate
Freak Show by James St. James
Deadtown by Nancy Holzner - borrowed from ninefly
The Dark Divine Swag (bookmark + sticker) - thanks ninefly!
A Wish After Midnight Swag (5 bookplates!) - thanks Zetta!


Okay, so how much do I love the swag? I already read and loved and reviewed the Dark Divine, and while I may not have my own copy of TDD (which will be rectified soonnnnnn, very soon) but I haz bookmark and sticker to comfort me while I wait for paperback!! (trying to ease up on the hardcovers, for I am brooooke) Which is all mine mine mineeeeeeee, mwuahaha. And the AWAM bookplates!! *HUGS THEM* I was wondering if anyone'd be interested in winning the AWAM swag in a giveaway. I have four left over that I can totally give away, but one is for myself. 8D And, also, I might as well mentioned that I gobbled up and finished Freak Show already and OMG MY SAPPY SAPPY HEART, HOW FABULOUS IS THIS NOVEL?! I HAVE NO WORDS. REVIEW IS COMING, I SOLEMNLY SWEAR. (I'm so behind on reviews. It's disgusting)

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Pimping my first book giveaway. Join it! Please? =D

*wanders off to sleep*

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chinese Gals Front and Centre - My First 50+ Followers Giveaway! (Exclusively Chloe OR Mountain Girl River Girl)

... I have no excuse for not posting up this giveaway sooner. I mean, I had the giveaway spreadsheet more or less done, and I picked out all the photos, I was just too damn lazy. BUT NO MORE. Without further ado, I'd like to present my First Giveaway in honour of having reached 50+ followers!!! *throws confetti everywhere*

As the title of my giveaway suggests, this is all about the Chinese Gals, FRONT AND CENTRE. In other words, the books I'm giving away both have very awesome Chinese girls as our beloved protagonists. The two books areeeeee *drumrolls*


1. Exclusively Chloe by J. A. Yang OR 2. Mountain Girl River Girl by Ting-xing Ye


Note: Both are lightly used. As I had MGRG longer, it does have two coffee spots on the sides of the book, but it didn't ruin the pages or anything. (I totally swore off coffee now so this won't happen with my other books. Really! I've been going strong for 2 months!!) No stains on EC though.

That's right, I'm only going to be giving away ONE of these books. Unless, of course, I get 100+ followers, then the prizes mayyyyyyy possibly be both. Possibly. *winks*

Also, *deep breath* This contest is opened INTERNATIONALLY!! (watches my wallet cry softly) And um, contest deadline is momentarily up till March 4th 11:59 PM EST, but I will probably extend it. Once I figure out how to change the date on the Google Doc form, anyhow. (Help? Please? *_*)

What must you have in order to participate?

1) Be a follower. I know, this sucks, but this is really a follower's giveaway at heart, Old followers shall be rewarded, et all.

2) Leave your google friend connect name and a email so that I can contact you

3) THAT'S IT.

Of course, there are the usual ways to get extra entries. tweeting, sidebar, blog post, add up entries... BUT I thought to add to my fun, I'm also going to have another way for y'all to get extra entries called Recognize Your Chinese Actresses?. Basically, Look at the 5 photos of chinese actresses before you. If you know any or all of them, name the # of the photo, then name of actress (+1)(+2) and/or a show/movie she was casted in (+1)(+2). Soooo, you can get up to twoFOUR points for each actress and if you know ALL FIVE, You can get up to TWENTY. yes, TWENTY points. =D I wish y'all the best of luck. ETA: I'M A DUMBASS AND CAN'T DO MATH. It's edited now, but basically you get two points for actress name and ANOTHER two points for actress movie/tv show. So it's FOUR points in total and THUS does actually add up to twenty. Sorry for the confusion. T______T

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.


CONTEST NOW CLOSED

And that's it! If, however, you for some strange reason need convincing that either Exclusively Chloe or Mountain Girl River Girl is worth the read, click the cut link and I'll tell you why these books rock.

Review: Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan


Title: Love is the Higher Law
Author(s): David Levithan
Genre: YA contemporary
Page Count: 176
Publisher: Knopf Books

The Summary: First there is a Before, and then there is an After. . . .

The lives of three teens—Claire, Jasper, and Peter—are altered forever on September 11, 2001. Claire, a high school junior, has to get to her younger brother in his classroom. Jasper, a college sophomore from Brooklyn, wakes to his parents’ frantic calls from Korea, wondering if he’s okay. Peter, a classmate of Claire’s, has to make his way back to school as everything happens around him.

Here are three teens whose intertwining lives are reshaped by this catastrophic event. As each gets to know the other, their moments become wound around each other’s in a way that leads to new understandings, new friendships, and new levels of awareness for the world around them and the people close by.

David Levithan has written a novel of loss and grief, but also one of hope and redemption as his characters slowly learn to move forward in their lives, despite being changed forever.

The Review: After finishing this book, the first thing I was convinced of was that I was a fool for not having tried any of David Levithan's work in the past. I am in love with his writing, I love how he can fluidly change writing styles for different characters and yet still has the same signature Levithan writing underneath it all. Beautiful, lovely prose. I can't praise it enough.

That being said, I thought the linking between characters was a bit flawed, specifically in how Claire fit into the equation. The interactions between Jasper and Peter really came to life, but their interactions with Claire doesn't work half as well. I wanted to like Claire, I really did, but I think her role as a sort of catalyst between Jasper and Peter did her no favours. Levithan kinda assigned her the role of being the one who embodies the hope of post 9/11 and the goodness of humanity, and she's often portrayed as the observer rather than the participant of events. (i.e. the party) It's not that I think she never went beyond her symbolic role as observer and human goodness, but we just didn't see enough of her to get a sense of her personality beyond her designated role. I mean, I know she had a life outside of Jasper and Peter but it was never really shown to us readers. I just wish there was more variety in the shown Claire interactions. Maybe another POV from another character's perspective like Claire's brother or Marisol? I felt like Claire was one of those character sketches that had potential but just didn't go anywhere.

The Peter and Jasper characterization went much better, especially on Jasper's part. I loved Jasper's voice and personality, and how sardonic he was. Also, it's kinda sad, but this is one of the rare times I actually came across a snarky Asian protagonist in the english-written novels I read, so I doubly appreciate it. I'm not too sure how I feel about the portrayal of his parents though, the whole aloof father and overbearing mother thing. It was tipping on the verge of over the top stereotyping, but I decided that this didn't bother me much, and to keep in mind that this was how Jasper viewed his parents, and doesn't necessarily mean the parents are supposed to embody that stereotype themselves.

I liked Peter as well. What a music junkie he was. ♥ And as I mentioned before, the chemistry between Peter and Jasper was so sweet and awkward and I loved it. I thought this love worked out well with the title, a kind of connection formed in spite of the horror and sadness of the events of 9/11. I loved seeing Jasper from Peter's eyes and vice versa, something that didn't shine in at all the same way when we see Jasper or Peter's view of Claire.

The pace of the novel was nice and fluid, not so much in the traditional novel format way but more of the little short stories that build up and intertwine. I only wish that Claire's story was integrated better into this novel. And it brought back the day of 9/11 vividly in my mind, so real was the immediate setting, from the description of the towers and the very real reactions of the people in the city. I appreciated the balance of humour and solemnity and I can't wait to read more of Levithan's works.

The Verdict: A lovely read. While I wish we got more out of Claire, I'm convinced by the end of this novel that Levithan is a master storyteller, with exquisite writing and a lovely ability to switch between humour and sadness flawlessly. The romance between Jasper and Peter was one of the best mix of awkward and sweet love stories I've come across in a long while, and I clearly need to get my hands on more of Levithan's works.

Rating: 3.5
Enjoyment:: 95%

Title and Cover Discussion: LAWL I know that the title fits, but I keep messing up this title. I'm not sure why, but my brain keeps telling me that this book is called "Love is the Higher Order" instead of Law. I'm not sure whyyyyy I think this way, but there you go. And the cover tells you exactly the content of the novel (9/11) but I'll also confess here that the cover didn't connect with me. I'm rarely moved by night city skylines, I'll admit. Soooooo as I have a feeling my personal biases are going to influence the ratings too much to be of any worth to anyone, I'm going to chicken out of the title/cover ratings. Do feel free to tell me what you think of the cover and title though. =D (Surely I'm not the only one who constantly messes up this title?)

Note: Counts for POC reading challenge and GLBT reading challenge

Friday, February 19, 2010

Review: The Dark Divine by Bree Despain


Title: The Dark Divine
Author(s): Bree Despain
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Page Count: 384
Publisher: EgmontUSA

The Summary: A prodigal son

A dangerous love

A deadly secret . . .

I stood back and watched his movements. Daniel had that way about him that could shut me down in an instant. . . . I kicked the gravel a couple of times and worked up my courage again. “Tell me . . . I mean . . . why did you come back? Why now, after all this time?”

Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in blood. But she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night really held. And when Daniel returns three years later, Grace can no longer deny her attraction to him, despite promising Jude she’ll stay away.

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, her actions stir the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind Jude and Daniel's dark secret . . . and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.

--Summary from author's website

The Review: I inhaled this in half a day, egged on by the fact that I had limited time to read this before ninefly left, taking her books with her. I'm glad I felt the pressure in finishing off this book, because this novel, as much as I love it, has some serious pacing issues, going too slow in some parts and too fast at other points, so I may have been tempted to slow down or even stop my reading before I got to the good parts.

What I was most amused by in this novel was how... very South Korean melodrama it was. Seriously, it was following the Kdrama formula to the letter, to the point where I was like, "hmm, if this were a kdrama I could basically see the general direction of the story omg it actually happened!!" I mean, we even got the adopted brother who's in love with the sister thing that Kdrama is so fond of, and disapproving in-laws! All we were missing (besides, ya know, starring any hot Korean celebrities), was some amnesia -preferably via car accidents- complications (though the missing or skewed memories thing came close) and a major character with terminal illness (interestingly enough, a minor character was very ill. Close, but no cigar) It almost made me wonder if our author here watches Kdramas but the likelihood of it is so minor that I'll just chalk it up to awesome, happy coincidence. This makes a possibly upcoming Chromatic Casting on this novel too easy. There was something terribly amusing about watching a very familiar storyline that I'm used to seeing on tv unfold in written narrative instead, especially from such an unexpected place.

The christianity allusions were basic enough and elaborated further in the novel for me to follow as a non-Christian, and I personally thought this aspect was handled nicely without banging our heads at the concept over and over. (Um, feel free to give me a different perspective on this. =D) I've seen some complaints about the reveal of the paranormal in the novel to be too sudden, but I dunno, I thought Despain did a fairly even job of dropping noticeable hints all around in the beginning. I do kind of see how we can criticize the accelerated paranormal reveals for being too fast as it is a sudden change of pace from the the first half, but as the second half of this novel with all its paranormal reveals was my favourite aspect of the novel, you aren't going to find me complaining about it here. =D I'd rather make the argument for sooner reveals! and more childhood flashbacks! instead. The story could have definitely been told in less amount of pages and be better off for it.

I love the characters and the romance not so much because they were strong on their own but more because of the fact that the type they represent just hits all my buttons. I'm a big, big sucker for childhood crush that gets separated and meet again in the future (I love kdramas for a reason, y'all). The characters by themselves were pretty much meh for me (I will admit, I was already making fun of the cast name from the first few pages alone. Grace Divine, really?), but slot them into this type of romance and toss in a few awesome paranormal reveals and you'll find me cheering for our characters with the rest of the fans. One thing I did like about it outside of the whole kdrama thing and the paranormal reveals was the whole skewed/missing memory thing Despain played with in the second half. Don't want to spoil it, but the reinterpretations of events past and present and skewed persepectives was a nice touch. The writing too was very nice. For instance:

It used to be a treasure box where Jude, Daniel, and I kept our special things like pogs, and baseball cards, and that strange long tooth we found in the woods behind the house. But now it was a small metal coffin -- a box that held memories I wish would die.


Simple imagery, but very effective, y/y?

Now, for some complaints beyond the pacing, lol. I wish that this novel showed us more of April, Grace's supposedly best friend. It's like, once April got hooked with a boy she completely disappeared from Grace's life. The book says they're friends but I rarely see them doing, you know, basic best friend things like sharing secrets or going to one another when they have problems. The only interactions I remember were just them oogling boys as potential boyfriends. So yeah, this book? Doesn't even come close to passing the bedchel test. It'd be nice to have more of these YA romance books wherein the girls don't ditch each other once they find the Love Of Their Lives. Also, this is one of those books with a "raceless" white default (as it, there's no explicit racial markers but everyone is described as pale, etc etc) but I really didn't expect anything less coming into this novel as YA paranormal romance set in some small white town with new kid in the block who may or may not have powers rarely bother trying to include diversity within the story narrative. Didn't detract too much from my enjoyment of this novel though, for what it's worth.

The Verdict: All in all, a very pleasant read of a good, if a bit flawed, debut book, and I can't wait for the sequel! Daniel/Grace is TRUE LOVE, TRUEEEEEE I SAY! ♥ I for one, am hoping for a more prominent role for April and more interactions that are totally unrelated to boys in general. (Er, hopefully I'm not hoping too much here, lol) And preferably better characterization and pacing next time. And, maybe a new book on just Jude's perspective? *coughs* Basically, what I'm saying is, WHERE IS MY SEQUEL. *shot*

Rating: 3/5
Enjoyment: 90% (loses some points for pacing issues)

Title and Cover Discussion: I do think the title is nice. I like the paradox between Dark and Divine and the alliteration. I um, just have to get over the whole Divine being the last name of a family of pastors, is all. *dies* But the cover just doesn't do it for me. It gives me a twilight-cover vibe, with the whole black background and the shiny bright object that doesn't correspond with the story at all. It'd be eye-grabbing if it weren't for the fact that there's already plenty of covers with this type of motif on the shelves. And it is another purple cover that seems to dominate the shelves this season without having anything interesting within the cover to make up for it. Also, er, her death-white (there's pale, and there's like, ash-white death looking pale) skinny legs kinda creep me out. Surely no legs can be that skinny unless you're anorexic? Instead of otherworldly imagery, the legs on the cover just look the legs of a sickly person who should be admitted to a hospital ASAP.

Title: B+
Cover: C

Sunday, February 14, 2010

In My Mailbox - 02/14/2010

brief IMM post because I just got back from today's Chinese New Year celebrations. HAPPY NEW YEARS TO MY FELLOW ASIANS WHO ARE CELEBRATING! Also Happy Valentine's for those who celebrate that holiday, etc.

(meme by The Story Siren)



The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han (Thanks ninefly)
Ravenous by Sharon Ashwood (signed) + bookmark & letter (Thanks Tynga)
Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan (Borrowed from ninely)
A Million Shades of Grey by Cynthia Kadohata (Sent to me by Book Chick City THANKS SO MUCH.) *
The Serpent's Children by Laurence Yep
Dragon's Gate by Laurence Yep
Mountain Light by Laurence Yep

Mwuahaha, I'm closer to collecting the whole Golden Mountain Chronicles series!! Also, haz The Summer I Turned Pretty. Also known as, ohmigawd it's Jenny freakin' Han. Same applies for Cynthia Kadohata, except, you know, amplified 10 fold.

* Finished it today. Soooooooooo good. And the saddest Kadohata MG story by far. (For those who know Kadohata, yeah, that is REALLY saying something)

Friday, February 12, 2010

In which I finally talk about that Dragon and the Stars Cover

You know, with the Lunar New Year coming up and everything, I almost didn't want to post about this because it hurts me and every time I work on my draft of this post it just comes out sad and angry and hurt and inarticulate, and I hate how just the sight of one cover can make me feel so small. But then, as it goes, I should try and clear out and clean up all the bad air before the coming of the New Years so.

There's a new anthology coming out called The Dragon and the Stars. It is suppose to feature SFF stories written by the ethnic Chinese diaspora. This is how the cover looks like. (I refuse to upload the image up here. Absolutely refuse.)

I can't - I can't even begin to tell you how much this cover hurts and frustrates me. WHY is a western dragon considered representative of a SFF short story collection of the Chinese diaspora WHY. I'm just so insulted that the cover makers thought that a stock western dragon will do because All Dragons Are The Same and of course if we had to choose between a "western" or an "eastern" dragon, a western dragon is gonna work better because obviously all western ideas can speak for cultures and people all over the world. FAIL FAIL FAIL. This isn't even like, the wrong dragon kind of problem (though that does piss me off. If we really needed a dragon to be on the cover, our dragons aren't good enough or something?), it's the whole notion that a stock image of a distinctively western cultural icon can be used to represent other cultures, that ASSUMPTION of its universality that angers and hurts me. Your dragons cannot take the place of our stories, and the thoughtless-ness of this decision to do so appalls and astounds me. I do not need stereotyped eastern dragon covers, nor am I asking for one. There are ways to make a cover that represents the Chinese culture reflected in the stories without resorting to stereotypes, like the cover of Ying Chen's anthology A Banquet of Hungry Ghosts, for instance.

And you know, I may have carried on being angry and refusing to post, but then sometimes people are awesome and help heal wounds. Awesome, amazing people like Silvia Moreno-Garcia, who made a fancover for this anthology that made me smile and feel like I can try talking about this again and go, hey, here's a cover I'm willing to share with everyone:



DISCLAIMER: I did NOT make this cover allllllll credit goes to Silvia Moreno-Garcia


(I swear I'll have happy things to post about in this blog soon. Really! That giveaway post is comingggggg.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday's Taste: A Girl Made of Dust + Guest Post on Justine Larbalestier's blog and other announcements

(Meme from Taste Life Twice)

lawl, I haven't done this in ages. But A Girl Made of Dust is turning out to be one of those books I keep reading over and over because the words are so deliciously beautiful. And I didn't get to shove in all the quotes I wanted to show in my review, so I thought I'd take advantage of this time to feature a nice select quote here in hopes of converting new readers.

I lay there listening to her. The brushing slowed to the speed of her song and blended into it. In the high parts, her voice was clear and wavered, but when she sang low, it came out rough and grainy as sand. It was a beautiful voice, and she was like a princess going round and round sweeping - round and round until one day something wonderful would happen, and then she'd sing all the time. (pg. 21-22)


GO. READ IT. I COMMAND YOU TO.

+

I didn't mention this before but the most esteemed Justine Larbalestier invited me to guest post on her blog. I wrote about The Importance of Diversity, and I put my heart out to write this particular post. Do consider checking it out, and I'd love to hear any and all commentary you wish to make on it.

+

Er, another thing I just realized I didn't mention on this blog. Susan, the mastermind behind Color Online has invited me to be CORA girl, aka a part of that blogging team! So I'll be there, posting stuff. Don't worry though, GAL Novelty is my baby and I won't consider abandoning this blog any time soon. Do check it out, and as today is Susan's bday, do considering going over here and wish her a good one! =D

+

According to my follower widget I now have 50+ followers!!! *throws confetti everywhere* I was thinking of ways to celebrate and then thought of a book giveaway contest that I'm really excited about hosting. Said contest will be up sometime this week, I promise.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

In My Mailbox - 02/07/2010

(meme from The Story Siren)

I actually didn't buy any books this week, but two weeks ago I got books that I didn't get to post about because I was busy trying to finish off my January challenges, posting reviews and what not. Which I of course left all till the last minute and as January ended on a weekend I had to mass-write and post my entries and had no room to talk about the books I got. So I figure I'll remedy this error of mine this week instead! =D

The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng

"The Gift of Rain spans decades as it takes readers from the final days of the Chinese emperors to the dying era of the British Empire, and through the mystical temples, bustling cities,and forbidding rain forests of Malaya." In 1939, sixteen-year-old Philip Hutton - the half-Chinese, half-English youngest child of the head of one of Penang's great trading families - feels alienated from both the Chinese and British communities. He discovers a sense of belonging in his unexpected friendship with Hayato Endo, a Japanese diplomat who rents a nearby island from his father. Philip proudly shows his new friend around his adored island of Penang, and in return Endo teaches him about Japanese language and culture and trains him in the art and discipline of aikido. But such knowledge comes at a terrible price. As World War II rages in Europe, the Japanese savagely invade Malaya, and Philip realizes that his mentor and sensei - to whom he owes absolute loyalty - is a Japanese spy. Young Philip has been an unwitting traitor, and he is forced into collaborating with the Japanese to safeguard his family. He becomes the ultimate outsider, trusted by none and hated by many. Tormented by his part in the events, Philip risks everything by working in secret to save as many people as he can from the brutality he has helped bring upon them.

I bought this solely on the recommendation of the most excellent Michelle. Besides, any book that takes place in Malaysia = MUST READ. ♥ I checked out the first few chapters and the writing was exceptionally lovely. Thanks for the rec, Michelle! =D

A Girl Made of Dust by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi

A rich and beautiful novel set during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the early 1980s, and based on the author's personal experiences of the conflict. Ten-year-old Ruba lives in a village outside Beirut. From her family home, she can see the buildings shimmering on the horizon and the sea stretched out beside them. She can also hear the rumble of the shelling -- this is Lebanon in the 1980s and civil war is tearing the country apart. Ruba however has her own worries. Her father hardly ever speaks and spends most of his days sitting in his armchair, avoiding work and family. Her mother looks so sad that Ruba thinks her heart might have withered in the heat like a fig. Her elder brother, Naji, has started to spend his time with older boys -- and some of them have guns. When Ruba decides she has to save her father, and when she uncovers his secret, she begins a journey which takes her from childhood to the beginnings of adulthood. As Israeli troops invade and danger comes ever closer, she realises that she may not be able to keep her family safe. This is a first novel with tremendous heart, which captures both a country and a childhood in turmoil.

I bought this on a whim and was hoping I could use it for the the January's theme of the Social Justice Challenge, which was Religious Freedom (... yes I was cutting the deadline reallyyyyyy close, but what matters was that I finished on time! =D). And it was AMAZING. Totally worth my money and I wrote up a long review for this novel, if anyone's interested. Or, of course, just go and buy it now. Trust me, it's worth it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

On My Wishlist - 02/06/2010 + Interview on Reading in Color

(Meme from Book Chick City)

Now, I usually just do Wishlist Wednesday or Waiting on Wednesday, but some of these titles I'm way too excited about to bother waiting for next week to happen. So On My Wishlist it is!

Crossing by Andrew Xia Fukuda

A loner in his all-white high school, Chinese-born Xing (pronounced “Shing”) is a wallflower longing for acceptance. His isolation is intensified by his increasingly awkward and undeniable crush on his only friend, the beautiful and brilliant Naomi Lee. Xing’s quiet adolescent existence is rattled when a series of disappearances rock his high school and fear ripples through the blue collar community in which he lives. Amidst the chaos surrounding him, only Xing, alone on the sidelines of life, takes notice of some peculiar sightings around town. He begins to investigate with the hope that if he can help put an end to the disappearances, he will finally win the acceptance for which he has longed. However, as Xing draws closer to unveiling the identity of the abductor, he senses a noose of suspicion tightening around his own neck. While Xing races to solve the mystery and clear his name, Crossing hurtles readers towards a chilling climax.


+ Soooooo buying this. *marks April down on calendar* Seriously, this is literally the only YA debut novel with an Asian protagonist as far as I can tell. And that's pretty damn sad. (MG debuts fair a little better... As in, they have 2 titles instead of just one this year. Something tells me the other genres/categories of fiction isn't going to fair much better.) I could, you know, spend my time bitching about the lack of Asian representation, OR I could go and buy this novel. =D Besides, putting all that aside, there's mystery and LGBT content and it looks like this book will be epic. =D

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother's death and her family's bloody history.

With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Yeine will learn how perilous it can be when love and hate - and gods and mortals - are bound inseparably together.


+ I've been trying to avoid getting sucked into buying this novel, because I told myself, "Dude, you seriously do not need to get into epic fantasy right now. Epic fantasies suck out your soul." As in, once I get suckered in I can never leave. Such is the power epic fantasy wields over my being. But then I read her sample chapters on the author's site and got to the 3rd chapter and was like, "Damn, I can't say no to this novel anymore." SPOILERS FOR CHAPTER 3: [I was a goner the moment our protagonist Yeine went up against a crazed god chocking another child-god and was like "Stop it!" and then the god's response was to eventually let go of the kid, and make out with Yeine. ♥ HOW CAN I SAY NO TO THAT?! Gawd, I'm shipping them already and the book isn't even out yet. *has a Thing for Messed-Up Star-Crossed Love*]. After reading the sample chapters, I was basically like "WOE, WHY IS THIS BOOK NOT IN MY HANDS RIGHT THIS INSTANT" and Feb. 26th can't come fast enough.

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Jin Wang starts at a new school where he’s the only Chinese-American student. When a boy from Taiwan joins his class, Jin doesn’t want to be associated with an FOB like him. Jin just wants to be an all-American boy, because he’s in love with an all-American girl. Danny is an all-American boy: great at basketball, popular with the girls. But his obnoxious Chinese cousin Chin-Kee’s annual visit is such a disaster that it ruins Danny’s reputation at school, leaving him with no choice but to transfer somewhere he can start all over again. The Monkey King has lived for thousands of years and mastered the arts of kung fu and the heavenly disciplines. He’s ready to join the ranks of the immortal gods in heaven. But there’s no place in heaven for a monkey. Each of these characters cannot help himself alone, but how can they possibly help each other? They’re going to have to find a way—if they want fix the disasters their lives have become.


+ From the whole Amazon vs. MacMillan debacle (Scott Westerfeld has a good write-up of it here), I decided to comb through the YA POC books MacMillan published that I'd be interested in buying. And lo behold, this gem of a GN came up! I saw some of the strips online and it looks like a winner. Besides, I've been meaning to read some of Gene Luen Yang's comics for quite some time, and this looks like a good place to start off.

Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim

If Nina Khan were to rate herself on the unofficial Pakistani prestige point system – the one she’s sure all the aunties and uncles use to determine the most attractive marriage prospects for their children – her scoring might go something like this:

+2 points for getting excellent grades
–3 points for failing to live up to expectations set by genius older sister
+4 points for dutifully obeying parents and never, ever going to parties, no matter how antisocial that makes her seem to everyone at Deer Hook High
–1 point for harboring secret jealousy of her best friends, who are allowed to date like normal teenagers
+2 points for never drinking an alcoholic beverage
–10 points for obsessing about Asher Richelli, who talks to Nina like she’s not a freak at all, even though he knows that she has a disturbing line of hair running down her back
In this wryly funny debut novel, the smart, sassy, and utterly lovable Nina Khan tackles friends, family, and love, and learns that it’s possible to embrace two very different cultures – even if things can get a little bit, well, hairy.


+ Another MacMillan title I'd be interested in buying. If you read the excerpt you'll get what I mean. Very funny, from what I can see, and I heard good things in general about this novel. =D But don't take my word for it, read the excerpt for yourself.

ETA: lawl I almost forgot to link. Ari from Reading in Color interviewed me about this blog and you can read it here. I talk about myself in length, so I guess if you wanna know me a little better, you can go there. =D

Monday, February 1, 2010

Review: Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson


Title: Suite Scarlett
Author(s): Maureen Johnson
Genre: YA Contemporary Urban Comedy
Page Count: 353
Publisher: Point

The Summary: Her new summer job comes with baggage

Scarlett Martin has grown up in a most unusual way. Her family owns the Hopewell, a small hotel in the heart of New York City, and Scarlett lives there with her four siblings - Spencer, Lola, and Marlene.

When each of the Martins turns fifteen, they are expected to take over the care of a suite in the once elegant, now shabby Art Deco hotel. For Scarlett's fifteenth birthday, she gets both a room called the Empire Suite, and a permanent guest called Mrs. Amberson.

Scarlett doesn't quite know what to make of this C-list starlet, world traveler, and aspiring autobiographer who wants to take over her life. And when she meets Eric, an astonishingly gorgeous actor who has just moved to the city, her summer takes a second unexpected turn.

Before the summer is over, Scarlett will have to survive a whirlwind of thievery, Broadway glamour, romantic missteps, and theatrical deceptions. But in the city where anything can happen, she just might be able to pull it off.

--Summary from backcover

The Review: An amusing, addictive read, of the brain candy variant. I was bored and on the bus, so I figured I’d flip through a couple of pages to see where this novel was heading. Next thing I knew, my bus ride was over and I was practically running home so I could curl on my sofa and finish the last few chapters. I liked the narration and the one-liners. You know how there are some authors that strive to be quotable but end up just sounding like they’re trying too hard? Well, those authors must envy Johnson, ‘cause she makes her one-liner deliveries feel easy and natural, and sooooo quotable. Also, did I mention how funny it is? It’s one of those humourous books wherein the main character is the only sensible one, and dragged into adventures by crazy people (i.e. Mrs. Anderson and Spencer). Watching Scarlett stare at the crazies around her made me grin.

Which leads to my next point. I do like Scarlett quite a bit. She’s got this dry humour, and comes off as the sensible, no-nonsense one. However, as much as I approve of our Scarlett, the characters who stole the show for me were Mrs. Anderson and Spencer. I think this may because I have a weakness for the crazy. I was mostly fangirling Mrs. Anderson at first (she’s like, such a spoiled child and has OCD. Except she’s like, 50) but then Spencer just kept on being awesome and he went all valiant on Scarlett’s honour and thereafter millions of Spencer fangirls were born. (Those who’ve read the book will know what I mean. =D) All the characters in this novel were lively and charismatic, and fully developed to boot. Those who like their YA novels character-driven will lap up Suite Scarlett like honey. =D

I love the interaction between Spencer and Scarlett too! Their sibling banter makes me grin. Actually I just really like the whole family aspect in general. Not only are all the siblings are distinct and awesome, they also have this very real sense of sibling relationship going on too. It’s rare for me to find novels with more than three siblings in total (AND with all their parents intact!) and the fact that the sibling dynamics and rivalry felt so real was like icing to the cake. And what a glorious, sweet cake it was. Also, on the whole siblings note, I found the depiction of Marlene most fascinating. Marlene is our sickly, recovering-from-cancer youngest sister sibling of the lot. Normally, that would make Marlene our designated fragile, angelic and full of child-like innocence figure of the story. But no! Marlene is, get this, the evil one. How awesome is that? I love her. =D

Another interesting aspect about this novel was its strong sense of place. I felt like I was there with Scarlett in summertime New York City, and imagining the hotel the Martins (Scarlett’s family) owned came easy. ETA The direction and flow of the plot was seamless without ever missing a beat as we watched Scarlett's uproariously hilarious journey unfold. The novel ties up its loose ends fairly nicely, and I’m curious about how the sequel will pan out. As much as I enjoyed the family dynamics, we didn’t get to see Scarlett’s friends at all, so her return to the school year should be refreshing into the whole factor of introducing a different side of Scarlett’s life. ETA2: and hopefully the casting will be a bit more diverse. I'm closing my eyes a bit at the lack of diversity in this novel because it concentrated on Scarlett's family who was white, the crazy washed-up actress tenant and her love interest, who were both also white and I suppose any more major players in the cast would be a bit much. I can accept an all-white family cast with minimal outside-of-family interactions with only two other white people but if the SCHOOL is totally whitewashed and her friends are all white that would be a bit much. I mean, come on, this is New York City here. No excuse for lack of diversity. And speaking of the city, I’ll be interested in seeing how Johnson will choose to incorporate the city, autumn-style into the novel as well.

In short, a fun novel and the prospects for its sequels are pretty promising.

The Verdict: Fun novel with a cute premise, lively, colourful casts, and a breeze to read through. Recommended if you’re looking for a good laugh. I’m looking forward to the upcoming sequel and reading more about Spencer and Mrs. Anderson.

Rating: 4/5
Enjoyment: 100%

Title and Cover Discussion: The title is fun and sweet, and the cover, while at first just looks like your typical object cover, the NYC skyline on the key gives the cover that extra twist. It isn’t a cover that makes me go, “omg beautiful”, but it’d be interesting enough to get me to pick it up from the shelves and flip through a couple pages.

Title: B
Cover: B

Discussion Question for Readers: Who's your favourite character in this novel? Also, what are you looking forward to seeing in the Suite Scarlett sequel?