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, November 29, 2009

More Awards!

Continuing Part 2 of 3 in giving out this award... Along with rules re-post

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.

6. Jenny at Dreaming of Books
7. Kate at Read This Book!
8. Booksploring
9. Catherine at On the Nightstand
10. iurgnotmis at brickwall

Almost getting to 15 w00t! =D

Thanks to Missy at Missys Book Nook for the award! =D

Here are the rules for this award:
1.) Thank and post URL to the blog that gave the award.
2.) Pass the award along to 6 brilliantly over the top blogs (blogs you love!) Alert them so they know to receive the award.
3.) Copy and paste this quiz... Change the answers, ONE word only. (2 are acceptable!)

1. Ari at Reading in Color
2. ninefly at story on a page
3. Choco at In Which A Girl Reads
4. Steph at Steph Su Reads
5. S. Krishna at S. Krishna's Books
6. Mandy at Edge of Seventeen

The Quiz:

1. Where is your cell phone? Table
2. Your hair? Bob Cut
3. Your mother? Water
4. Your father? Pun
5. Your favorite food? Malaysian
6. Your dream last night? Forgotten
7. Your favorite drink? Juice
8. Your dream/goal? Rich
9. What room are you in? Living Room
10. Your hobby? Fiction Consumption
11. Your fear? Change
2. Where do you want to be in 6 years? City
13. Where were you last night? Skating Rink
14. Something that you aren't? Calm
15. Muffins? Blueberry
16. Wish list item? Netbook
17. Where did you grow up? Scarborough
18. Last thing you did? Eat pineapple
19. What are you wearing? Red
20. Your TV? Precious
21. Your pets? Family fish
22. Friends? Brilliant
23. Your life? Good
24. Your mood? Happy
25. Missing someone? No
26. Vehicle? Bus
27. Something you're not wearing? Gloves
28. Your favorite store? Secondhand bookstore
29. Your favorite color? Pink
30. When was the last time you laughed? Today
31. Last time you cried? Can't remember
32. Your best friend? Plural (lol)
33. One place that I go to over and over? ...School
34. One person who emails me regularly? Angel
35. Favorite place to eat? Cafe Princess

Saturday, November 28, 2009

This Week's Triple Snapsnots: Evening is the Whole Day, Ten Cents a Dance, February Flowers

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

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

Evening is the Whole Day by Preeta Samarasan - This is a book that’s seriously hard to love. When I say this, I don’t mean that this is a horribly written book or anything. In fact, I think the writing is lovely, if sometimes a little overwrought. No, what makes this book hard to read is the fact that none of the characters are likeable. The very premise itself is about how people fail each other, and this process is very painful to watch. No one in this story comes off with their hands untainted. I think I could have came to terms with this theme if there was some form of redemption at the end, but Samarasan offers us none. It’s a bleak premise told and contained in luscious prose, like the relation of the Big House (lovely, brightly coloured) to its inhabitants (broken, spiteful, misunderstandings, failure.) Now, I can come to love a book even with awful, mean characters when they are shown in a larger-than-life quality (I like Wuthering Heights for a reason. >D) but here, while the cast do cruel things, they don’t do it because they are particularly vicious and messed up people. They do it almost as if it’s all ordinary and normal, resigned to their fate. And that’s far worse, actions taken and accepted without hope or subversion. The storyline of Chellam the servant and Uncle Balu was the hardest for me to swallow, personally. Hence, I took months to finish reading this novel. Sometimes I think I would have enjoyed this novel more if Samarasan challenged the wrongs and failures of the family and society more, but then again, that wasn’t what Samarasan was trying to illustrate in her work.

Despite all this, I do think the reading experience was worthwhile. Just the writing is really something to behold, how Samarasan perfects the art of out-of-sequence storytelling, jumping seamlessly through time and point-of-views and still tells a coherent and brilliant story, one secret, one bit of failure, revealing one by one with steady pace and rhythm. The ghosts that the youngest child sees was also tastefully done. (This novel kind of has this bizarre fairy tale-esque quality to it, sans the redemption and happy endings, when I look back at it. I think it's the imagery thing and the language Samarasan uses that evokes this impression in my mind, lol.) And I enjoyed this as the first novel I read that takes place in Malaysia and feels real rather than just window dressing. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to read a novel with beautiful prose and is set in an Asian locale without going down the “exotic” route, and doesn’t mind unresolved tension at the end. (When I say unresolved tension, I mean that the failures are never redeemed, not that the various plotlines are left unresolved.) Just, don’t go in expecting everyone to end up happy. ^^;

Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher - This has got to be one of the best historical fictions I’ve read in a long, long time. The 1940s in Chicago setting is vibrant and comes to life with Fletcher’s amazing writing ability and paramount research, from the setting descriptions to the dialogue and just, everything. I love Ruby, and I love seeing a YA novel that is really all about our female protagonist and the way she views the world around her, and less about her one-true romance with some creepy stalker-ish guy. (Not to say that there wasn’t a creepy stalker-ish love interest. In fact, they were several. I guess what I’m trying to say it’s a breather to find a YA novel that isn’t all about a romantic relationship. There are other more pressing concerns that Ruby has in her life, like her job, and forging a future for herself.) This novel is really about Ruby and her position as a poor teenage girl growing up in a debt-ridden family above anything else, any ties she has with others, and I enjoy that. I also thought Fletcher handles the various problematic issues of the time (prostitution, gangs, class, race) in a subverting way without ever feeling like she’s just imposing 21st century values on the past, and I appreciated that a lot. I mean, when Fletcher handles the whole racism thing against Pinoys, etc, as realistic as it was back in the 40s without pissing me off, that’s when you know it was done well. (The Filipino guys are actually considered as a main love interest for one of the main girls in this story and they even got married!! I know, I thought I’d never see this happen either.) I also liked how the story was unpredictable in the direction the plot was taking us, and while I thought the ending was a tad bit rushed, I liked the hopeful quality at the end. Highly recommended to EVERYONE. One of the best books I read this year.

February Flowers by Fan Wu - This book is, at the core of it, about the relationship between two university women, and how our protagonist, Yan, is slowly becoming attracted to her best friend Ming. Thing is, I came into this novel thinking it’d be more about Yan’s sexual desire for Ming and let’s just say this novel let me down in this aspect. It was all UST* all the way through with no reconciliation, and the first thought I had after finishing was “Oh come on, I don’t even get a KISS?!” I don’t think I’m being too demanding here about this. There were all sorts of heterosexual sexual scenes in this novel, and even masturbation, but I don’t even get one lousy awkward first time lesbian kiss between Yan and the love of her life? The most we get on any described homosexual fulfilled relationship was an implied scene with two other women on campus holding hands. lol, this makes it sound like I hated the novel, but I didn’t, not really. I mean, I definitely believed that Yan was very smitten by Ming even when she doesn’t realize it, and Wu’s description and narration on Yan’s feelings felt very real. I also liked the setting, how it was strongly grounded in the city of Guangzhou and wasn’t just some vague exotic Chinese city thing going on, how Wu shows us the changes in Guangzhou as time goes past. The prose is very pretty without being extravagant as well. I thought Wu could have done more on the whole bit about Ming being an ethnic minority in a Han dominated China (Ming is Miao, if anyone wondered) but it wasn’t a bad portrayal and I didn’t think her whole ethnic minority status was used by the author to portray her as the exotic love interest or anything. I just, I guess I wished this novel was more than it was.

*Unresolved Sexual Tension

Friday, November 27, 2009

Links Roundup 11/27/2009

Book Reviews
Evermore by Alyson Noel - Because who can resist hilarious reviews on terrible YA twilight-wannabe novels? >D
Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines - In which Choco gives us the lowdown on how This Is Not The Novel We Expected, i.e. there is very little epic gladiator fights and more about character exploration.
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys - A review of a novel that retells Jane Eyre from Bertha's perspective, and basically about how Rochester is the biggest creep in the world. (AMEN)
Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers by Lois-Ann Yamanaka - A Japanese-Hawaiian girl's coming of age story. Nice, long, and detailed review. =D

Author Neesha Meminger has things to say about "damaged" writers of colour: Are Writers of Colour Damaged?

Okay, so as everyone on the blogsphere is talking about it to the point in which I can't ignore its existence any longer, yes, that Twilight sequel movie spawn thing is out. (Oh fine, I'll say the title: New Moon.) It's kind of an open secret that I despise that novel and just about everything that has to do with it. So, because I am a spiteful person, I am going to link some choice sites about those Quileute werewolves and how Meyer and the whole Twiworld franchise treats the people of this ethnic group and their mythologies:
Media Doesn't Know Quileutes Are Real - The latest in Twi!Quileute fail.
Roundup links on all Quileute within Twilight related stuff - Yay ppl do roundups so that I don't have to!!
New Moon: Old Story? - In which Racialicious takes a look at our token native Quileute love interest (Jacob) and how the New Moon movie portrays POC relationships on the vein of "same old same old garbage" attitude.

And, just for good measure, a post on the whole Sexual Purity Fantasy thing Twilight has going on, by the awesome Neesha Meminger.

Review: Warchild by Karin Lowachee

Title: Warchild
Author(s): Karin Lowachee
Genre: Adult Character-Driven Space Opera
Page Count: 451
Publisher: Warner Books

Summary: The merchant ship Mukodori encompasses the whole of eight-year-old Jos’s world, until a notorious pirate destroys the ship, slaughters the adults, and enslaves the children. Thus begins a desperate odyssey of terror and escape that takes Jos beyond known space to the homeworld of the strits, Earth’s alien enemies. To survive, the boy must become a living weapon and a master spy. But no training will protect Jos in a war where every hope might be a deadly lie, and every friendship might hide a lethal betrayal. And all the while he will face the most gruelling trial of his life… becoming his own man
-Summary from backcover

The Review: lol, wonder of wonders, I actually read a sci-fi novel and liked it. (Seriously, I can count all sci-fi novels that I honestly enjoyed with my fingers.) But love it I do, and the reason why I loved this novel so much was definitely due to the very strong character-driven aspect of the novel. !! Which reminds me…

WARNING: This book contains child abuse and child exploitation. Reader’s discretion is advised.

Okay, moving on. This novel is very much Jos’ story, and I suspect the reader’s enjoyment of this novel is going to be heavily dependant on whether or not they buy into his character. While this is space opera and there is a lot of explosions and battles and life-and-death situations and spies, that is not the focus of this novel. The focus of the novel is a big character sketch on Jos’ psyche, from childhood to adulthood. Warchild is, in many ways, a coming-of-age story. That’s why this novel is so fascinating for me. I became deeply attached to Jos with all his angst and flaws as I read further and further into the storyline. I love my character-driven stories, and Warchild delivers this aspect in spades.

I love how Lowachee plays with tense and perspective. It may sound odd to hear this, but she manages to switch between 1st person and 2nd person singular seamlessly. Yes, in this novel, Lowachee uses ‘you’ in some parts of the novel to narrate. And, despite my initial reservations, actually works really well. The trauma Jos suffers as a child is all told in second person, taking the awful parts of his experiences growing up and retelling it in a voice that separates this trauma from himself, and it worked marvellously. Later on in the story, when he and other fellow comrades get sent off for battle as soldiers to kill the “enemy”, Lowachee will once again use 2nd person to great effect. This way of narrating shows us readers in the very text how Jos distances himself psychologically when he experiences or undergoes various horrors, and it’s brilliant. To all the sceptics out there who (like how I once was), never thought using ‘you’ as a narrative voice could ever possibly work should pick up Warchild. You’ll be in for a treat.

The plot is deeply intertwined with Jos’ character arc, and Jos’ perspective shapes the way in which all the events of the novel are perceived. I really liked this aspect, because I really cared about everything that happens to Jos, so that when we reach the “slow” moments, away from the battlefield and get dialogue and/or contemplative moments, the pacing never meandered for me. There is, of course, plenty of action throughout the novel to keep things moving. (This is, after all, space opera. =D)

I really liked the way Lowachee handled the world building. The world of the aliens and the humans were solid without Lowachee spending chapters going on and on about every little world building aspect of the setting or how this and that technology works in all it’s amazing futuristic ways. Instead we are shown the world through Jos’ eyes, and how he interprets the world around him. Because Jos is very much an outsider trapped between two worlds, we get an outsider’s look on everything, and details that would have been taken for granted by the locals are explained and described to Jos.

Also, about the alien world, it has quite a lot of Asian cultural influences. Now, this could have been really problematic, since the war is Humans vs. Aliens, but Lowachee portrayed this war with two definite sides to the story, and the Aliens are not seen as evil incomprehensible beings that humans can’t empathise with. In fact, I liked the arc about Jos’ stay on the striv planet a lot. It felt like a whole and complete world, and I enjoyed that. On the EarthHub aka Human world, I really liked the fact that not everyone was whitewashed. So often I come across novels in the SFF section wherein everyone was all pasty white medieval world influenced by default, so the fact that Warchild doesn’t do this pleases me.

All in all, a very enjoyable read, and everyone should go and try this novel out. I’m personally looking forward to reading through my copy of Warchild’s Sequel, Burndive. =D

Rating: 5/5
Enjoyment: 100% ♥

Title and Cover Discussion: I looooooooove the title. The title 'Warchild' makes me think of child soldiers, and broken childhood, and that is, in a way, what this novel is very much about. I also like how we can relate Warchild with what goes on in the story, since a man called "Warboy" becomes a mentor to Jos. As for the cover... Well, keeping in mind this is Sci-Fi and most of the covers, from my experience, are hideous, I suppose I can't fail it. It's not the worst I've seen, but it's not exactly easy on the eye. The cover just comes off as generic sci-fi boringness. Also, I think it's kinda telling when the French cover actually manages to look better, and French covers usually suck.

Title: A+
Cover: C

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Throwback Thursday: Child of the Owl by Laurence Yep

To be honest, I’m quite nervous about doing this Throwback Thursday. Child of the Owl means a lot to me, more than I think my words will be able to do it justice. But I will try my best. :D

In which I will talk about one of my childhood novels and my reaction rereading them. (Idea from Taste Life Twice

Blast from the Past: I first stumbled upon Child of the Owl in my school library, wandering around the shelves when I caught a glimpse of the cover. The one my library had was the red one, with the girl with a purple hoodie in front of a Chinese restaurant, holding a necklace in her hands. The cover girl looked like me. Back as a child I always sought out books with East Asian faces on the covers. I think the reason why I did this was because almost every novel I was ever handed always had stories about white people having their great splendid adventures and I longed for stories with people who looked like me being the star of the storyline for once. These stories were so far and few in between that I got into the habit of borrowing novels that showed an Asian face without so much as even checking out the summary or the first few pages. They didn’t even have to be Chinese. I’d read it as long as the cover showed an Asian face with familiar black hair and rounded nose and brown eyes. I came to read stories about Mongolians, Koreans, Japanese, Vietnamese etc etc that way.

I read it, and fell in love. I don’t think any book that I ever came across before or after that had me identifying with the protagonist as much as I did with Casey in Child of the Owl. Her Cantonese was abysmal! She had a hard time getting along with her peers! She constantly begged her Grandma to tell her stories of the past! She was snarky and fun, and, I will admit, one of my favourite parts was the bits when Casey tells us how sometimes she doesn’t feel Chinese enough, with all the people in Chinatown around her speaking the language fluently while she can barely understand simple phrases, not to even get into the whole reading thing.

And the story itself! It had family relationship explorations and mythology and generation history and *flails*. I think the part that charmed me the most was the story-within-a-story part of this novel, in which there was a myth-like story the Grandma tells about their ancestors, with owls and feathered robes and a touch of folklore magic, and I loved it. I distinctly remember re-checking out this worn out novel more than once just to reread that particular story. It was just, this novel felt like a novel catered specifically for someone like me, and that feeling I get whenever I remember this book, I can’t really describe it but it’s a bit like when you’re at the table, birthday cake in front of you, and smiling nonstop at everyone around you because they’re there to celebrate for you, and you feel like you could be someone special.

The Re-visiting Experience: I found this novel again after so many years at a secondhand bookstore for $4.99, along with other Laurence Yep novels. I seriously couldn’t believe my luck. I mean, even the big megachain bookstores don’t stock Laurence Yep stuff anymore, finding his old Golden Mountain Chronicles series (Which Child of the Owl is part of) was something like a miracle in my eyes. I grabbed just about all of them. (Unfortunately there wasn't the red cover version, but I'll take what I can get.)

Rereading Child of the Owl made me fall in love all over again. If anything, the book means so much more to me now, after all these years have passed. I now know that this novel is part of a longer generational story, a series that spans through the generations of one Chinese family as they move over to the US during the gold rush and over to the generations thereafter. The whole Golden Mountain Chronicles series came to mean a lot to me, the one and only children’s series that showed me a world that Chinese aren’t just newly come immigrants, the perpetual foreigner and can be rooted in the nation and have a long history within the United States. I mean, obviously I knew in my head that the Chinese were in United States since Gold Rush days etc, but there’s nothing like historical fiction to make you feel like it happened for real, reading words after words so that this fact starts to finally feel like truth in your heart. The Chinese were in America and have history there, and their stories are worth more than a footnote in a textbook, worth more than being just background props to the grand narrative. The Chinese-Americans too can star in their own history.

I still love the myth part of the novel a lot, but I also came to appreciate everyone else in the story beyond just being like CASEY IS THE BEST all the time, lol. The thing about this series is that you can be sure that everyone has a story, full lives of their own beyond what this particularly novel tells you. I liked Talia/Booger, Casey’s friend, quite a ways more now. There were more passages in this novel that struck me, my perspectives having changed when I grow older. That’s the thing I love about this novel, how I can grow up with it, reading again with changed eyes, different world perspectives and still come away with something, still coming out like I’ve just read something truly special.

Will quote a couple passages under cut (I know! I actually narrowed it down to only three! I would have quoted the whole myth part of the story, but er, I figured that would be way too much…)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: The Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee

(Meme from ETA Breaking the Spine)

=O What is this? I actually have a book to talk about for Waiting on Wednesday? *is in shock*

Summary from OrbitBooks.Net:

At the edge of the known world a new empire built on war, technology, and religious fervor faces a new enemy.

A young spiritwalker of the Aniw and a captain in the Ciracusan army both find themselves unexpectedly thrown together, the Aniw girl a prisoner taken from her people, the soldier a reluctant student of a forbidden talent—one that may turn the tide of the war and will surely brand him an outcast.

From the rippling curtains of light in an Arctic sky, to the gaslit cobbled streets of the city, war is coming to the frozen north. Two people have a choice that will decide the fates of nations—and may cast them into a darkness that threatens to bring destruction to both their peoples.

(Coming out APRIL 2010)

NEW SERIES BY KARIN LOWACHEE, EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. *excited* And nothing has been able to fill in on my urge to have Inuit fantasy world setting since Avatar: the Last Airbender ended (Know one?! Please rec me!! *makes eager face*) so I have high hopes. =D (Yes I have read Warchild and I swear the review is going to come before this week is over...*crosses fingers*)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Review: Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe

Title: Give Up the Ghost
Author(s): Megan Crewe
Genre: YA Paranormal High School Slice-of-Life
Page Count: 241
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

Summary: Cass McKenna much prefers ghosts over “breathers.” Ghosts are uncomplicated and dependable. They know the dirt on everybody… and Cass loves dirt. She’s on a mission to expose the dirty secrets of the poseurs in her school.
But when the vice president of the student council discovers her secret, Cass’s whole scheme hangs in the balance. Tim wants her to help him contact his recently deceased mother, and Cass reluctantly agrees.
As Cass becomes increasingly entwined in Tim’s life, she’s surprised to realize he’s not so bad—and he needs help more desperately than anyone else suspects. Maybe it’s time to give the living another chance…
-Summary from cover flap.

The Review: I had a really good time reading this novel. My favourite aspect of the novel was definitely the treatment of the supernatural. Rather than going on about the Very Special Powers of Cass and running off on Very Cool Adventures, it’s more about the way in which her abilities seeing ghosts impact, rather than change, her life. It’s got this slice-of-life feel with dark humour that I’m a complete sucker for, and I love it.

The writing is very easy to get into. It’s fluid and quick, and Cass’ wry humour and sarcasm lends itself well to the first person narration Crewe choose to tell this story in. I was pulled into the flow of the story very quickly and finished the novel within the 24 hours after I checked it out of the library. The dialogue is also very snappy, flows well, and fun to read as well. I really love the steady pacing of the whole story. There was never really a moment that was too slow or too fast. I guess if I really must complain than maybe the flashbacks could have been handled a little better, but that is a minor quibble on my part.

Note: This is again, one of those YA fiction that does the list thing. But it's handled in a humourous way, so it wasn't as annoying as it potentially could have been.

The two strongest characters in the novel are definitely Cass and Tim. I suspect that the reader’s enjoyment of the novel is highly dependent on how much they can empathize with Cass, and sometimes Cass and her cynicism makes her a hard person to sympathize with. But once the reader gets her, it makes the story that much more interesting because you really feel for Cass, with all her flaws, and care about what Cass goes through. I really liked what Crewe has done with Tim. He could have so easily just been the perfect angsty boy love interest to swipe Cass off her feet, but he wasn’t. That’s another thing I really enjoyed about this novel: Crewe chooses to not concentrate on romance. This is not another paranormal epic romance about two people falling in love. This is about a girl and a boy with very big problems and flaws, and how they grow by interacting with one another, and learn to care for people. Crewe holds tight reign over the story and refuses to let high romantic drama take over, and in doing so she achieves greater emotional impact with her story. The Cass/Tim dynamic is definitely one of my favourite aspects of this novel.

While these two central characters shine brilliantly throughout the story, the side characters do fall a bit to the wayside. Some of the ghosts felt more like stock characters more than anything, simply there to facilitate Cass’ storyline. Cass’ ex-best friend feels more like a 2D evil villain than a real person, and her parents fair even less, with her Dad almost a non-presence for how much he is even mentioned in the story. This didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story, but it’s something to point out.

Now, onto the setting. This novel was very much one of those generic high school in upper-class white town types. The reason why I say this is that, really, beyond the description of the school hallways, and perhaps a couple trees and the houses, there really isn’t much other description Crewe bothers to give us readers. It’s all too easy to imagine this novel to be set in any all-white town, and the reason why I came to this conclusion is by how bland the setting: there’s only houses, all Anglo-Saxon names, lacks the city type bustle. Now, add to the fact that this novel is Canadian, and we get, yet again, another Canadian children’s/YA lit that is All-White, All-Canadian fiction land. It wouldn’t bother me so much if it weren’t for the fact that after I finished reading, I was trying to think of the last time I read a Canadian YA paranormal/fantasy novel that featured anyone who wasn’t white in any prominent way and came out empty. (Can anyone name one for me? Anyone...?)

Still, it was a fun read overall. The slice-of-life feel to the supernatural was the biggest selling point for me and I definitely think everyone should give this novel a shot. =D

Raiting: 3/5
Enjoyment: 80%

Title and Cover Discussion: Okay, let's start with the title because I actually have something nice to say about it. I like it. If we look it in a literal way it fits the plot of the story very nicely. Unfortunately I don't quite find the title snappy enough to be memorable, because I find myself referring to this novel as "That really good novel called mumblemumble Ghost!! =D" ^^; Another thing I liked was the font of the title. Very ghost-like if we ignore the random pink Now, for the cover, I'll be upfront: Do. Not. Want. It's one of those covers that's conceptually cool but when it comes out it just doesn't work. I like the idea of a high school girl with the ghost whispering all the secrets into her ear but when it's on the cover it just looks weird. The ghost almost looks like s/he's melding into the main cover girl and ugh. Also, the weird forehead cut off doesn't do it for me. I mean, if you're going to show her full face then why not show ALL of it? Why cut off the forehead and the hair at the top? I don't get it. And the random pink is too random. I like pink but it just didn't work with the blue tones of everything else in the cover. The only reason why I wouldn't fail this cover is that we actually see the girl's face, and in current YA novel land (ESPECIALLY with the paranormal YA stuff), this is rare enough that I'm going to relent on my ratings based on this fact.

Title: B+
Cover: C-

Sunday, November 22, 2009

In My Mailbox (3) 11/22/2009

(Meme from The Story Siren)

Random Note: ninefly bugged me into getting GoodReads. I'm wingstodust there, so if anyone wants to add me, well, there I am. =D

lol something I noticed last week. At first I thought the # besides the "In My Mailbox" title meant the amount of books you got that week as oppose to, you know, the number of times you did IMM. It feels strange to me that it's actually the latter because, honestly, who cares how many times you've done IMM? (Can you feel my n00b-ness showing through? lulz) I guess the title tags would be confusing if I get the same number of books in a week, so instead I'll be adding the date on the tile as well as the amount of books I got. =D

Nothing bought this week, but I did borrow three books from the library.

Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe

I finished it and loved it and I swear the review is coming up soon. It reminds me of Natsume Yuujinchou, except replace Japanese mythology with contemporary ghosts, for those who know their animanga. =D

I Wanna Be Your Shoebox by Cristina Garcia

I first heard of this from Doret and it sounded adorable~ So obviously I had to get it. =D I am a few chapters in and I really like it so far. =D

Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher

Historical fiction with girls and dancing. How can this possibly go wrong? *optimist*

So, what did everyone else get this week? =D

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Triple Snapshots: Eternal, The Haters, Leviathan

(Inspired by Hyper Parfait's Triple Delights feature)

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith - I could not get into Eternal. (Hence the short paragraph—I could say more, give it a fully fleshed out review, but I didn’t care enough about this story to bother.) Which sucks because this whole star-crossed lovers premise is totally my thing, and bi-racial vampire girl! But I couldn’t do it. I didn’t care about any of the characters, least of all Zachary and Miranda, and hence I couldn’t invest myself in the plot or the romance. (Actually the romance was probably my least favourite aspect of this novel, surprisingly enough.) I’ll be honest: if I didn’t buy this and instead borrowed it from the library I probably would have stopped halfway through the novel, max. Sometimes the writing is snappy enough to make things interesting but most of the time the writing felt trite and dragged on for me. But the fandom references were amusing, I’ll give it that. (This was probably the only thing I can say I liked with no reserves about this novel.) Just to put it out there, I didn’t hate this novel. I just found myself really distant and meh towards it. (lol if I truly hate it I’d be really obvious and mean about it.) I guess, to sum things up, this really wasn’t the novel for me. I’ll be passing on the rest of the books in this series.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld - When it comes down to it, I just had plain good fun reading this novel. It’s fun and fast and I love the action and the dialogue. Also, the illustrations are beautiful. I’m reserving opinions on how well this alternate version of WWI is done until I get to the third book to see how this divergence will play out. Also, this has been marketed as a kind of Romeo and Juliet romance, so I’m crossing my arms and waiting for it to happen. I hope it delivers on the Tragic Love aspect all the way to the end. ♥ So basically, it’s a book full of potential. Perhaps when the trilogy is over I can make a proper assessment on how well the story pans out.

The Haters by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez - A YA high school drama novel—this time with the school population being ethnically diverse. I never really became fond of our protagonist. Possibly because the way her powers were handled. (Was the whole animals bowing to her really necessary?! And if you want tips on handling magic in a realistic slice-of-life fashion, watch Natsume Yuujinchou or read Give Up the Ghost or something. Don’t just like, have it sit there and put us readers through her constant whining about her ~*freaky powers*~. It just makes her annoying.) Also, this was one of those many novels where I got attached to the one side character that everyone is supposed to hate aka the evil queen bee Jessica Nguyen. This book, while parading around to be full of Diversity and what not, our author sure doesn’t have any qualms about reinforcing Asian stereotypes. (Valdes-Rodriguez is better with other ethnic groups, btw.) The whole evil robotic Asian person out to get you, all math and no emotions? All there, without any attempts at subversion. I think I should be happy that an Asian girl even gets a prominent role with lines and stuff, but I can’t really find it in myself to be charitable. So instead I ended up rooting for the nemesis and constantly reimagine everything from Jessica’s point-of-view. That was how I managed to finish the whole novel and while I did enjoy the novel, I er, didn’t enjoy it for the “right” reasons.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Links Roundup 11/20/2009

!! I'm on time this week! =D

Book Reviews
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl - YA Supernatural romance, except it's the girl who's the mysterious other this time. Steph Su's review is my favourite review out of all the ones I've seen so far.
The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan - A different critical take on TDL from the usual reviews I've seen for this novel.
The Magicians by Lev Grossman - Adult School Fantasy.
The Accord by Keith Brooke - Reviews terrible SF novels so that we don't have to read them! =D
Sarah Rees Brennan's batch book reviews - Hilarious scripted take on the following novels: Meredith Duran's Bound by Your Touch and Written on Your Skin, Tessa Dare's Goddess of the Hunt, Cindy Pon's Silver Phoenix, and Megan Crewe's Give Up the Ghost.

The lovely Justine Larbalestier has a post on the Blank Page Heroine phenomenon.

Also, as some of you may or may not know, there's some buzz over the creation of a "New Adult" category in the book section. Now, I personally have a strong distaste for this and hope the category dies off like, now so my linking is going to be biased. I'd point to a link roundup that is far more fair than mine, but I haven't seen one so far. If you do, please let me know so I can link it here. =D

Two posts on this "New Adult" category, and fiction theory's three posts on why this is fail.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Throwback Thursday: I Want to Go Home by Gordon Korman

whut 2 posts in one day?! the world's surely gonna end...

In which I will talk about one of my childhood novels and my reaction rereading them. (Idea from Taste Life Twice)

Blast from the Past: I was in Grade 5 and we had one of those Independent Study Units things where you pick from a select booklist a novel to read and do write-ups for. I can no longer remember the reason why I was late in choosing the books, but by the time I got there, all that was left was these old, yellowing books called I Want To Go Home by Gordon Korman, with a crumbling cover so faded I could barely make out the cover image. I was distraught. Here I was, stuck with the ugly novel no one wanted. In my mind, there was no conceivable way this sorry state of a novel could possibly be good. (And man, was my Gr. 5 self proven wrong.)

Anyhow, filled with pessimism, I cracked over the yellowing pages and decided to get my ISU done and over with. One chapter into the novel and I could not be parted from its yellowing pages. It was so funny. I was hooked by the time Rudy wrote his letter of typhoid and being chased by bears and various other outrageous lies about his camping experience. To this day I thank the heavens that I was late into the book choosing and wound up with this diamond in the rough. Every time I remember this book I find myself smiling in happiness.

The Re-visiting Experience: Wandering around a secondhand book store, I stumbled upon a copy of this novel. Needless to say, I bought it up. Childhood happiness for about the price of a toonie. I could have died happy. And rereading this novel was just as fun as it was when I was twee. The jokes were still laugh out loud funny and I had to actually pause midway through the book because I’d be losing my breath from too much laughter. And I still enjoy reading about Rudy very much. Thinking back, Rudy may have been one of my many influences in getting all attached to snarky characters causing chaos wherever they went, with a touch of sullenness. ♥

However, some other things that I was completely blindsided to when I was a child:

  1. Wow, this novel comes off as very white. If the cover doesn’t tip off this impression then the very Anglo-type names of all the cast would probably do the trick. Skin colour is rarely described, but if mentioned at all it’s always “pale” or “white” , and other times they’d go red from angry or being sunburnt, etc etc. Basically, white is clearly default and in case we readers get any different ideas, our cover of All-White Campers will be there to remind us of our mistake. I mean, I suppose this isn’t shocking since this is a Canadian children’s novel and Canada is our Great and Forever White North. (bossymarmalade has a post about this if anyone’s interested.) It’s just, I look back, at all the Canadian Kid’s lit books I was given back in elementary school, and wonder how much I must have absorbed from them, a Canada that had no place for someone who looked like me.

  2. This is very much a Boy’s Book that has no place for girls. If we are there, we’re the fretting mothers, or the girls keeping Rudy down and foiling his escape routes, the party poopers. When described we’re “petite blue-eyed”, the classic European Standard of Beauty for women/girls, the date, the love interest, the accessory. Basically, another book to the string of Boy’s Adventure books that have no place for girls and girl cooties.

That being said, I honestly did enjoy my reread. It was quirky and laugh-out-loud fun, and I’ll quote the letter bit under the cut, because the comedy was sincerely one of my favourite aspects of this novel.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Blog Award (1/3) and a Book Trailer

My first award!! Thanks MissAttitude from Reading in Color! =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.

Er, it's going to take me a while to work up to 15 because I don't actually know that many blogs OTZ... So I'm gonna do a third of it now and I promise to finish awarding blogs within a month (or so, since I suck with deadlines...) from today. Since I'm not done awarding, I won't be putting up the award on the sidebar yet. (I feel cheap if I do so, lol.)

1. ninefly at story on a page
2. Sapphire Pyro/xtine06/pink_fairy10/Ninjovee at Hyper Parfait
3. Lorena at I ♥ Manga
4. Kelly at kelakagandy's ramblings
5. Thundie at thundie's prattle

And a book trailer of Megan Crewe's Give Up the Ghost, to remind myself to get cracking on that review. ^^;

Monday, November 16, 2009

Review: A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott

Title: A Wish After Midnight
Author(s): Zetta Elliott
Genre: YA Urban Historical Fantasy
Page Count: 230
Publisher: Rosetta Press

Summary: Fifteen-year old Genna Colon believes wishes can come true. Frustrated by the drug dealers of her building, her family's cramped apartment, and her inability to compete with the cute girls at school, Genna finds comfort in her dreams of a better future. Almost every day she visits the garden and tosses coins into the fountain, wishing for a different life, a different home, and a different body. Little does she know that her wish will soon be granted: when Genna flees into the garden late one night, she makes a fateful wish and finds herself instantly transported back in time to Civil War-era Brooklyn.
-Summary from backcover

The Review: To say that I love this novel may perhaps been an understatement. But love it I do, and I will probably end up using the word "love" for basically everything I discuss in this review. Just a heads up to the readers that stumble on this blog review. =D Also, I'm kinda enamored with Judah/Genna couple (OTP FOREVA ♥) and er, while I tried to cut down on the OTP gushing to make this review more readable and less fangirly, I get this feeling I was unsuccessful... *DIES*

Okay, let's begin with the setting of Brooklyn. I absolutely love and adore how strong the sense of setting is in this novel. With Elliott's amazing writing talent, she brings Present Day!Brooklyn and Civil War!Brooklyn to life. The city feels tangible and real, and I wished that all urban fantasy could manage this amount of realism with their respective cities.

I also liked how Elliott spent equal time in the Present as in the Civil War Brooklyn. At first, due to the summary, I kept on waiting for the time-travelling to happen, but then Elliott pulls us into this sweet first love story between Judah and Genna and, for me at least, my investment in this couple is one of the many things that helped make everything that happened in the second half just that much more intense. (It kind of reminds me of The Secret Garden in the sense that it builds up slow, but because of this it just brings everything that much more meaning and punch at the climax. Er, actually I'll just link what Neesha Meminger wrote, for she is so much more eloquent than I. ^^; )

Moving on to my darling GENNA. Oh, sweet, level-headed, practical Genna, I was routing for her dreams and wishes all the way through the whole novel. I love how Elliott took the time to really let us get to know Genna before she gets transported back in time. This way we get the chance to really understand Genna as a whole person, with a life and a family and people she cared for, so that when she does get torn away from home, her sharp homesickness and uncertainty about how she'd return just hits us readers in the heart that much more. I especially appreciate how well-developed Genna's family was and the exploration of family interactions. I love reading stories about siblings and parents and stuff, having more than one sibling myself, and Elliott delivers this factor in spades.

I really loved the supporting cast in this novel. Even though not all of their back stories are revealed, I definitely got a strong sense that every single one of the side characters had their own story to tell, i.e. they don't feel like plot devices. As for Judah, I'll be straight up and confess that I love this guy to bits. Yes, I realize this is probably a minority opinion from the way things look in the internet, and it is probably due to his controlling demeanor in the second half. I understand all this, but I don't care, TEAM JUDAH ALL THE WAY. Judah's got a big heart, is dorkishly sweet (the HAIKU ♥ and his encyclopedia knowledge of everything), and his relationship with Genna makes my heart melt. The accent helps too. *is bricked* He has strong views about what he wants in life, and they do in fact clash with Genna's, but I think that's what makes this couple interesting. I get this sense that they both want things so deeply and passionately, striving relentlessly forward to carve out their future, and combine that with their love that started as a sweet high school crush to the intense longing in the second half and I'm a goner. ♥

(Um, just to put it out there, I do like Paul just fine. He's sweet, flirty and fun though I could have done with less of the Blue! Eyes! descriptions on his attractiveness but I don't really see him ending up with Genna. He is very sweet though and I am fond of him, and I would love to see more of him in the sequel.)

What I also found interesting was Genna's reaction to Civil War!Brooklyn as a 21st century girl. Genna is very much a present day girl with present day views that are extremely different from the commonly accepted and default views found in the U.S. Civil War Era. The issues of race, ethnicity, gender, morality were explored well and isn't treated stereotypically in both Present Day and Civil War Era parts of the novel. I'll try not to be spoilery and just say that I thought her reactions to Mrs. Brant and how they evolved over time was probably one of the most interesting character interactions in the whole novel. In fact, I in general just really appreciated how Elliott shows us readers how Genna grows and changes as she meets more and more people.

lol, all this raving and I haven't even gotten to Elliott's exquisite writing!! Every time I am reminded of the fact that publishers/editors/agents rejected A Wish After Midnight for five years, I just can't wrap my mind around it. It plain boggles me. I can't understand how people can turn down A Wish After Midnight after just trying one paragraph of this novel. You know what? Since I'm basically incoherent and can't talk about this aspect of the novel properly, I shall just quote a passage. (Gratuitously Judah/Genna because I can't help myself):

"You know what a haiku is, Genna?" Judah presses a small piece of paper into my palm and walks on ahead with Tyjuan. I trail behind, wanting to be alone. I stop in front of the purple irises growing next to the pond and open Judah's note. At first I feel disappointed 'cause there are only a few words written inside. But then I read them and my eyes fill up with water and my heart aches with that sweet kind of pain, and I wonder if I'm always going to feel this way whenever someone does something nice for me. Inside the note is a poem. Judah has given me these words:
my love is the sun
and you are a blue lotus
turning towards me
(pg. 55)

Guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh~~~ ♥ Everyone, go and order a copy now. You won't regret this decision. =D

Rating: 5/5
Enjoyment: 100% ♥

Title and Cover Discussion: You know, I actually don't know how to approach this part of my review? I mean, I don't find our Wish title particularly grabbing, but the more I look at it the more it fits? It might not be a title that makes readers go HOMG MUST READ but it just works so incredibly well with the story. I guess it's like those songs you hear on the radio that you didn't really like at first but the more you hear it the more you like it, lol. Same with the cover. (Though I'm biased since I love pink *is bricked*) It's not like the Shiny YA novel covers I'm used to, but the more I see it the more I like it. Hence, I'm going to wuss out on the rating thing since I'm at loss. Instead I'm going to ask: what do you readers think of the cover and title? I'd like to hear and share opinions/thoughts, etc, along with the novel discussion, of course. =D

Sunday, November 15, 2009

In My Mailbox (13)

(Idea from The Story Siren)

So ninefly convinced me to do In My Mailbox, with a conversation that went something like this (albeit embellished, because I have a tendency to do so):
ME: But if I do In My Mailbox people are gonna discover my horrendous book shopping sprees and sometimes I don't have much to say about the books I read and what if people expect reviews -
ME: ... Fiiine. But I don't have to like it

Anyhow, the novels I bought this week (arranged with ninefly's help, because clearly I can't do anything on my own) er, I don't know how that random sticker got there? *is very messy person*:

Received: 0
Borrowed: 0
Bought: 13

Will be discussing novels in the order of the photo, from top to bottom, left to right. (Top Row: Hardcovers, Middle Row: Mass Market Paperbacks, Bottom Row: Trade Paperbacks)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Review: Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale schedule is fairly much going down the drain. But hey, this is my first normal review, so yay?! =D

Title: Book of a Thousand Days
Author(s): Shannon Hale
Genre: YA Fantasy Fairy Tale Retelling
Page Count: 306
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Summary: When Lady Saren refuses to marry a man she fears, she and her maid, Dashti, are locked in a tower with just a tiny flap open to the outside world. As food runs low and the weather changes from broiling hot to unbearably cold, it is all Dashti can do to make them comfortable in their dark prison.
Not long after their confinement begins, Saren's suitors arrive-one welcom, the other less so-and she orders Dashti to speak to them. Impersonating Lady Saren is a crime punishable by death, but Dashti will have to play the role many times if she is to save them both from the tower and the dangers outisde. As she takes control of their desperate situation, Dashti begins to understand her own astonishing talents and believe that even a low-born maid can find true love.

The Review: First off, this is the first time I ever came across a YA fairy tale novel retelling that wasn't set in Europe. Can I say LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT?! And the world was very distinctly Mongolian, from the food they ate to the clothes they wore and just, everything. . ♥ I thought Hale did a very through research, personally. Also helping with the setting is an inclusion of the map in the Bloomsbury USA version, and all the little illustrations inserted all throughout the novel. This novel has a very strong sense of place, a well-grounded setting, and I really appreciate this aspect.

I really enjoyed the diary format of the novel. We get a very strong closed 1st person perspective this way and our narrator Dashti is very sweet and strong-willed and fun to read from. The illustrations drawn in are very effective and flow well with the diary format. In short, no complaints, and very enjoyable writing that flows well and is easy to read.

If I must be critical about this book, it’d be the whole Villainous Evil Characters of Irredeemable Evil. Khasar was evil and even animalistic about his villainy. (Yes, they went there.) Vachir the love rival had no redeeming qualities. Also problematic was how the whole classicism thing was dealt with. I don’t think Hale subverted the princess and the maid dynamic as much as she could have. Saren still, for the most part, held too much commanding power all the way to the end over Dashti for me to really think of their relationship as equals. SPOILERS FOR ENDING (thanks to ninefly for helping me with spoiler tag: [I thought they didn’t challenge the class issue enough with Dashti and Tegus either and the ending really didn’t help matters. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the ending and was really happy that Dashti and Tegus ended up together at the end but on retrospect it was still problematic. I mean, the reason why Dashti was able to be Tegus’ bride was by becoming gentry herself. In other words, she must change her status as mucker, a very essential part of her identity, in order to marry him. That does not send out a particularly positive message nor subvert classicism problems, so. =/]

The romance between our heroine and the requisite prince is adorable and sweet as required out of the fairytale. I will not lie, while reading the book, towards the end I was like “I do not CARE what unrealistic deus ex machina move they pull, TEGUS AND DASHTI MUST END UP TOGETHER AND GET MARRIED, DAMNIT.” I don’t think it’s particularly spoilery on my part to admit that this fairy tale retelling gave us our Happily Ever After in spades.

Anyhow, this is a lush, beautiful fairy tale retelling set in a fantastical Ancient Mongolian universe that will deliver on all the troupes that every fairy tale must have yet exploring the vast and fascinating world and the characters in ways only the length of a novel can allow. Highly recommended for those who love their fairy tales that aren't whitewashed

Rating: 3.5/5
Enjoyment 90%

Title and Cover Discussion: I’m not sure how to feel about the title. I mean, on one hand it’s rather eye-catching, but on the other if we calculate the days it wasn’t exactly a thousand days. (It’s 1110 if we want to be exact.) But hey, in history we often aren’t exact about numbers either, so I don’t begrudge that. (The Hundred Year War wasn’t for a hundred years, the 300 spartans wasn’t exactly 300, etc etc) Also, the cover I received was the Bloomsbury USA paperback one so I got a face on my cover! Which made me really happy, since this may be the only YA fairy tale retelling that had a heroine so blatantly Asian on the cover. So much better than the hardcover, which I noticed it simply showed her hands holding a book. x.x I love the font for the title too and thought it looks really pretty with the cover et all. =D

Title: B
Cover: A++++ (for the paperback. The hardcover version can bite me)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Links Roundup 11/7/2009

... *coughs* Er, yeah, let's all pretend today is still Friday so I can post those Links Roundup? 8D

Book Reviews
Exposure by Mal Peet - Othello gone South American
Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) by Lisa Yee - MG Novel with POC cast and seems to portray interesting gender relations. Looks cute.
Confetti Girl by Diana Lopez - Socks! Girls! ♥
His Wicked Promise by Samantha James - Reviews trashy novels so that we don't have to read them! =D

Other Non-Review Book Blog Posts of Interest (via Reading in Color)
Seg-Book-Gation: A Letter to Book Lovers
A Gay Fantasy Bookshelf

Also, I'm doing NaNoWriMo. I'm not sure if anyone would be interested in me regularly doing a group link at the end of the week on my NaNoWriMo thoughts on my fandom blog, but you can see my posts here

X-Post of Relevant Stuff
Recounting the Westerfeld/Clare/Black Author Tour @ the TO - In which I give a brief recount of my experience of seeing these authors at their book tour in Toronto.
Fish gotta swim, Haters gotta hate - In which I bash books I didn't enjoy. Please don't kill me if you like the books I hated

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesday's Taste: Evening is the Whole Day by Preeta Samarasan

In which I will quote a passage I find particularly striking in a book I'm reading. (Idea from Taste Life Twice)

Here be opening paragraph to Samarasan's debut novel of epic:

There is, stretching delicate as a bird’s head from the thin neck of the Kra Isthmus, a land that makes up half of the country called Malaysia. Where it dips its break into the South China Sea, Singapore hovers like a bubble escaped from its throat. This bird’s head is a springless summerless autumnless winterless land. One day might be a drop wetter or a mite drier than the last, but almost all are hot, damp, bright, bursting with lazy tropical life, conducive to endless tea breaks and mad, jostling, honking rushes through town to get home before the afternoon downpour. These are the most familiar rains, the violent silver ropes that flood the playing fields and force office workers to wade to bus stops in shoes that fill like buckets. Blustering and melodramatic, the afternoon rains cause traffic jams at once terrible—choked with the black smoke of lorries and the screeching brakes of schoolbuses—and beautiful: aglow with winding lines of watery yellow headlights that go on forever, with blue streetlamps reflected in burgeoning puddles, with the fluorescent melancholy of empty roadside stalls. Every day appears to begin with a blaze and end with this deluge, so that past and present and future run together in an infinite, steaming river.

I love it, though some may accuse this love as being biased if you know me and no spoilers if you've read this book! I'm still not done yet. xD;;

Monday, November 2, 2009

Feature Book of the Month! Shadow Magic: A Review

lol look how I'm keeping to my schedule!!! *is shot*

Title: Shadow Magic
Author(s): Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett
Genre: Fantasy
Page Count: 387
Publisher: Ballantine Books

Summary: Led to victory by its magic-fueled Dragon Corps, Volstov has sent a delegation to its conquered neighbors to work out the long-awaited terms of peace. Among those sent are the decorated war hero General Alcibiades and the formerly exiled magician Caius Greylace. But even this mismatched pair can’t help but notice that their defeated enemies aren’t being very cooperative.
The truth is even worse than they know. For the new emperor is harbouring a secret even more treacherous—one that will take every trick in Alcibiades’ and Caius’ extensive arsenal to unveil. And once it is revealed, they may still be powerless to stop it.
With their only ally, an exiled prince, now fleeing his brother’s assassins, the countryside rife with treachery and terror, and Alcibiades and Caius all but prisoners, it will take the most powerful, most dangerous kind of magic to heal the rift between two strife-worn lands and unite two peoples against a common enemy… shadow magic.
- Summary from the bookflap.

The Skinny: A luscious, incredible fantasy world brought to life through the amazingly talented Jones and Bennett team. Our heroes will make you laugh, cry, and just care as they go through the turbulent times in post-war Ke-Han. Highly recommended, especially to those fantasy fans looking for something slightly different.