Oh hi.  Obviously I like to read, which has brought me here to booklikes.  While I do have my preferences when it comes to books, I like to read a variety of different works.


I just finished this book this morning.

I'll Give You the Sun - Jandy Nelson

I have a lot of good things to say, but I'll start off with the bad things because that's what's fresh in my mind and that's the type of person I am.

This book could have possibly gotten a 4 1/2 star rating had Oscar just fucked off out of this book.  I really hated the Jude/Oscar romance because right from the beginning it seemed so forced.  She was this closed off person, and I thought that this would be one of those stories where he chisels her out of her shell.  That's only partially true.  A lot of her character development happens away from him, and to be honest I thought that those were the best parts of her story.

It was instalove.  They were "meant to be" and they were... whatever the hell they called soul mates in this book.  All of the lovey dovey stuff was too much, especially since all of that happened maybe weeks after they met and just after he made out with that girl.  Who even knows what else he would have done with her had Jude not walked in?

It's just.

I do not like these gorgeous charming characters who do self destructive things, but look at how saaaad he is about the problems that he brought onto himself.  And he happened to be at the right place at the right time so that he could magically redeem himself.

I really hated the relationship and how the author went out of her way to make it seem like they were meant to be with the picture and the "prophesy" from both of their moms, and I just would have like either no romance, or for her to have a romance with someone else at a more natural pace.

Which brings me to something that I loved about the book:  Noah/Brian.  I will ship that relationship in hell.  I felt like Jandy Nelson did a wonderful job at developing their friendship and showing some hints that Brian might feel the same way about Noah.  She wrote the little things really well, like when they were looking threw the telescope together and Noah's back was touching Brian's chest.  That scene alone affected me way more than talk of prophesies and soul mates.

Which brings me to the other thing that I didn't like.  There's so much about Jude at the end and that makes sense since they were told through her perspective, but I really did not appreciate reading on and on and on about how perfect she and Oscar were together (I give that relationship a week) and then I get like three sentences about how Noah and Brian's relationship turns out.

Sorry, as I said, I really enjoyed this book as a whole, but I did not like the last 20% of it.  There was confession after confession after revelation after revelation and it put a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.  I liked the rest of the book, but unfortunately right now the good parts of the book aren't as fresh in my mind right now.

books read in 2013

In 2013 I made a spreadsheet of all the books that I read that year, and I started to do the same thing for 2014 but then my computer broke.  But it's all good because I had emailed the 2013 list to myself and I remembered everything anyway.  I thought I'd post the lists here anyway so 


1. Adaptation by Malinda Lo (I thought this had a strong start and a not so strong middle or ending.)

2. Luv Ya Bunches by Lauren Myracle (I enjoyed her other books that I've read, but this was just okay.  But maybe I'm just not the target audience.)

3. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

4. Strangers from a Different Shore by Ronald Takaki

5. Asian American Dreams by Helen Zia

6. Living "Illegal" by (like four different people and I couldn't be bothered to write their names)

7. Drown by Junot Diaz

8. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

9. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor  (I'd give the first half maybe 4 or 5 stars.  I'd give the second half maybe 1 or 2 stars)

10. A Disability History of the United States (I regret finishing this just for the sake of finishing it.  On another day, I might have gotten more out of it.)

11. Interpreter of Maladies (possibly the only book on this list that I read in a day)

12. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (I sooo regret rushing through this and finishing it just for the sake of finishing it.)

13. Deathless by Catherine M. Valente (Same here, I guess the only positive thing that came out of me forcing me to read books that I might have like had I read them when I felt like reading them is that it somehow got me back in the swing of reading.)

14. Adorkable by Sarra Manning

15. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie

16. Prodigy by Marie Lu (I felt that this was stronger than Legend, where the character development had been lacking.)

17. Ash by Malinda Lo (I have very lukewarm feelings about this)

18. The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

19. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

20. The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley (favorite book of the year)

21. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

22. On Beauty by Zadie Smith

23. The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (first Murakami.  Actually I read half of Blind Willow Sleeping Woman the month before, but gave up because all the stories seemed pointless.  I'd be interested in hearing from a Murakami fan why they like him so much.)

24.  Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

25. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta (this was a reread.  I rarely reread books, but I wanted to get to the next book on the list.)

26. The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta (the characters from Saving Francesca came back)

27. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (I read this in an afternoon.)

28. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

29. The Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra

30. Prison Writings: My Life is My Sundance by Leonard Peltier

31. War Dances by Sherman Alexie

32. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

33. Lost City Radio by Daniel Alarcon

34. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz (I kind of read this in a day.  I think that I started it in the afternoon, and ended the next morning.  Definitely within a 24 hour period.)

35. Whistling Vivaldi by Claude Steele (sociology book about stereotype threat.  Was informative but also boring, repetitive, and I really hated how he acted as though white men were in the same boat as minorities.  God, the pain of being "stereotyped" as racist must be so much worse than actual racism!  The horror!)

36. Champion by Marie Lu (I enjoyed this trilogy, but I really hated that last chapter.  Or was it the last two chapters?  That plot twist was so unnecessary.)

37. The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

38. Everything Asian by Sung J. Woo

39. Flight by Sherman Alexie (it's entirely possible that I read this one in a day.  I definitely remember reading this at a page a minute, so it could have happened.)

40. Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisneros (the year was winding down, and I remembered how quickly I read Mango Street, so I picked up this book so that I could say that I had read 40 books that year.  Yet another book that I regret rushing through.)




Reblogged from The Book Lantern:

We are making this official and we hope you'll take this stand with us.

We as book bloggers will not give Kathleen Hale any publicity. No book tours, no interviews, no cover reveals, no reviews, not a shred of work from us. What she did is heinous and we can fight back in our own way. She has a new book coming out next year. Let's ignore it completely. 

Please join us. Come to Twitter & declare #HaleNo. Say No to Kathleen Hale.


(Credit to Cuddlebuggery for the epic tag)

Vida - Patricia Engel

I can't really rate this book because I know that the thing that made the book less enjoyable to me was not a flaw.  I very strongly believe that readers don't always have to approve of the way the character acts.  They don't always have to like the characters.  What matters is that the reader is in some way invested in the story and that the characters are portrayed realistically.

I really liked this short story collection.  I couldn't understand why the main character Sabina was so drawn to the men that she dated, especially when it came to the title story.  But I did like that Engel wasn't afraid to give her characters flaws.  I think that sometimes authors want others to like their characters so much that they don't even bother giving them flaws, or they only them the flaws that we would think are adorable.  That's not the case here.

I did like the first person perspective in this story.  I thought that the writing was very strong.  I didn't like when one of the stories changed to the second person perspective.  I have nothing against second person, but it just didn't work for that particular story.  I did like it more in one of the other stories, where it's still in first person perspective but "you" is one of the characters (yet another shitty boyfriend). 

But back to the first short story that was in the second person perspective, that was about how the main character had once had an eating disorder.  I wish that had been referenced more in some of the other stories.  I felt like that was a big puzzle piece that I didn't know where to place.  I needed more pieces, but sometimes the beauty of short story cycles is that not everything is explained fully.  You get bits and pieces, but not really the entire picture.

Proxy Review

Proxy - Alex London

This book follows two lead characters, Syd and Knox.  Knox is a spoiled rich kid who grew up having everything a boy could want except for love.  Syd is a poor kid who, because he was an orphan and had to go through the foster care system, and then go to get his biofeed implanted, and then go to school, is in some serious debt.  In order to pay off his debts, he became Knox's proxy which means that when Knox gets in trouble Syd gets punished.  Knox often gets in trouble, but at the start of the book he does something really bad and Syd is sentenced to the usual torture as well as 16 years in prison.  Understandably, Syd is like "fuck this" and the book kicks off from there.

I thought that the book was entertaining, and though I accepted it for what it was, I thought that it could have been more.  As always, I appreciate when there's some diversity in a book.  Syd is both gay and, considering that he was described as having dark brown skin and kinky hair, I think he was also black.  One of the things that I like about this teen dystopia trend is that we end up getting some books that deal with class issues.

But I do think that the book fails in convincing me that this could happen.  I do not have to suspend disbelief at all to imagine a world where the justice system fucks over the poor and privileges the rich, but this proxy system makes no sense to me.  Maybe it would work better if this was an underground system rather than the official justice system?  And I didn't understand why all these rich parents would give their children proxys.  Knox's father hates how spoiled and undisciplined his son is, and if he wants his son to learn a lesson and if he doesn't want to coddle Knox, then why would he give him a proxy?  Why not just let him get punished?

And with teen dystopians, I think that you do have to suspend disbelief when the teenager(s) fight back and actually have a chance at beating this really powerful government.  This was no different.  In this world people have this data in their blood steam and that makes it very easy for the government to track them.  I don't believe in how the characters were able to hide themselves.  

If Syd is alone in a room and suddenly Syd uses the fake ID and becomes Tom Miller, wouldn't the authorities know that Syd used a fake ID?

(show spoiler)

Oh and the ending.  I liked the idea of how the book ended, though I thought that could be cleaned up a bit, but I did think "couldn't they do this other thing instead?"

Instead of sacrificing both Knox and Syd couldn't they both have contributed their blood and both could have survived?  I wish that that had at least been addressed in the book.

(show spoiler)

So, in conclusion, I did enjoy it and I didn't think that it was a bad book.  But I think that with more work it could have been a lot better and thought provoking rather than just entertaining.

Lost City Radio - Daniel Alarcón Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz

The first book that I talk about in this video, Lost City Radio, took me absolutely FOREVER to read.  I think that I started it in September and finished it in November.  The second book, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, took me a day to read.

Monster - Walter Dean Myers Extra Indians - Eric Gansworth

I uploaded this back in February.  The first book that I talk about is Extra Indians, book 2 is Corona, and book 3 is Monster.

Seraphina - Rachel Hartman

While I was reading Pantomime, I realized that I hadn't read any YA fantasy books since my very bad experience with the genre in June 2013.  Since I don't believe in writing off an entire genre, I figured I should read this book partially because someone recommend it, but also because it has a gorgeous cover and I love the name Seraphina.  I can be a bit shallow sometimes.

I quite enjoyed this book.  I loved reading about this fantasy world and I thought that it was a really cool idea that the dragons could take human form.  Our heroine Seraphina is secretly half dragon and half human, and that's pretty much unheard of.  I liked that she wasn't the only person who was special, and I really liked reading about her forming new relationships.

Glisselda is Seraphina's music student and when she was first introduced, I was a bit worried about how she would be handled.  She is a princess and very feminine, while Seraphina doesn't really care about things like dressing up.  Sometimes you have two girls contrast in this way, and one is held up as this sort of better woman, who is more down to earth, while the more feminine one is treated as some silly airhead.  I'm glad that this book didn't take that route.  I think that it definitely could have, especially considering where the romance led us, but these two young women were friends and not rivals.

Speaking of the romance, I did really like the guy.  I thought their relationship developed very well, and I was on board with the whole thing.

My biggest criticism was that I didn't like the idea of dragons being emotionless.  I read the interview in the back of the book, so I know that the author reasoned that since dragons are reptiles and apex predators, they are not very social.  I can understand that, but love is illegal?  Hell, no, I cannot understand that.

I feel like enough stories have been written where feelings are extremely suppressed and love is not allowed to exist (The Giver, Equilibrium, Delirium, etc.).  I don't need to read another one.  It would be more interesting to me if different arguments in favor of feelings were made.  They aren't just there to spice up life; we did evolve the way we did for a reason.  Relationships are necessary because two or more people working to achieve a common goal are more likely to be successful.  We become emotionally attached to people and that motivates us to strengthen our relationship with them.  I'm just saying that it all works out logically.  Emotions and logic do not always contradict each other.

If anything, I think that humans are far more likely to suppress their emotions than dragons.  Don't we do that already?  We wear clothes while most animals do not.  We feel shame about all sorts of things, including sex while animals will have sex in public.  They simply do not give a shit that other people can see them.

There was one part in particular when a dragon saved a human.  He was very confused about his motivation for doing so because he wasn't in any immediate danger.  It was in his best interest to act as he did, but he hadn't logically worked that out at the time and he just acted in the moment.  I feel that a dragon would understand instinct and I couldn't buy this dragon's confusion.  In the wild, if he thought about everything logically before he did it, he would probably be dead.

So yes, I think that it would make more sense that dragons would be in touch with their emotions far more than humans.  But I did enjoy the book and I look forward to reading the sequel.


A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki

This was one of the best books that I've read all year.  We have Nao who lives in Japan and who has decided that before she dies, she wants to write about her 104 year old great grandmother in her diary.  We have Ruth who lives in Canada and when she is walking along the beach one day, she finds a Hello Kitty lunchbox which contains, among other things, Naoko's diary.

I loved the characters in this book.  I usually dislike reading about characters who resemble the author a bit too much, and I dislike even more reading about novelists.  But for some reason, I loved that the author was a character in this story.

And Naoko, I really loved her.  She grew up in America, but after her father lost his job, they had to move back to Japan and live in this shitty apartment.  At school she is horribly bullied.  There was a point in the book where I thought that these bullies should be put in jail for their actions.  That's how horrible they were.  So considering what Naoko has to deal with in both her home life and her school life, I can understand why she was suicidal.

I loved reading about Ruth's connection with Naoko.  She read her diary at the same time I, the reader, did and she grew to care for Nao just as I did.  There were some interesting ideas on time and the internet in this book and I thought it was a good touch that the main character was called Nao.

There were a few things that I didn't love.  Firstly I think that there was an anachronism.

 I believe that Naoko mentioned that her funeral video went viral on youtube, and then later we learned that all this had happened in 2000 and 2001.  Youtube came around in 2005.  And I remember that Nao texted her friend a picture of her in her school uniform, but were camera phones common in 2000?  It ruined some of the ideas on the internet and time for me because I think that even if 2000 wasn't very long ago, times were different then.

(show spoiler)

The other thing that I didn't love was how the dad was handled.  

I think that I felt more sympathy towards him than Nao and Ruth did.  I really hated that both of them thought that he was selfish for being suicidal.  Suicidal people need help and support, not judgment.

(show spoiler)

And the last thing that I didn't like was that even sometimes when I was thinking about how this book was so brilliant and amazing, I was also thinking about how I wanted it to end.  I definitely felt that way at the end, when the characters were having a conversation about what they thought was going on and I was like "I don't need to read this."  But that is a minor complaint because I still read it and I still loved the book overall.

Ask the Passengers - A.S. King

I did enjoy reading this, but I wasn't totally blown away by this book.  Astrid Jones lives in a small town with her controlling workaholic mother, not-so-secretly pot smoking father, and her little sister who seems to fit in perfectly in this town that Astrid hates so much.  Astrid likes to lie down on her picnic table and send her love to the passengers in the airplanes up there in the sky and ask them questions (hence the title of the book).

I did like that every once in a while we got to read about the passengers, but it would only be for a page or two, so I wouldn't be away from the main story for long.  Sometimes Astrid would send her love and her questions to the people in the airplanes and I would think "noo, I don't want to read about those people.  I just want to continue with the story" and it's like the book read my mind and decided not interrupt the story in order to tell me about the passengers.  I appreciated that.

I didn't appreciate how the Mom only seemed to have one personality trait.  She was controlling.  The happiness of her family was an extremely low priority for her, and her highest priority was her work and in fitting in in this small town.  Everything that that the character said or did reinforced this.  EVERYTHING.

And the town was just toxic and I don't think that it was written very complexly.  To be clear, I don't think that the mom or the town needed to be portrayed positively 50% of the time and negatively 50% of the time in order for them to be portrayed complexly.  I just don't think that the town and the mom should be so easily described in one word.  They should be more multifaceted.

And let's talk about Ellis, Astrid's sister.  I was worried in the beginning of the story that because Ellis fits in pretty nicely in this town that Astrid absolutely hates, and because she is the favored child of the mother, that she would automatically be evil, evil, evil.  

I thought that Astrid showed some real maturity in the end when she pointed out how she wasn't always there for her sister, how she wrote Ellis off as soon as she became a small town girl and was favored by the mother.  I didn't like how nothing was done with the bit of information thrown in at the end that Ellis had to go to therapy after she moved from New York.  I felt like that was cheap way of trying to get me to sympathize with Ellis and it wasn't needed.

(show spoiler)

Now, let's talk about Astrid's girlfriend, Dee.  I'll be honest with you.  I did not like Dee very much at all.  

In the book that I wanted to read, Astrid would have broken up with Dee on page 123.

(show spoiler)

 She kept acting as though Astrid was wasting her time because she wanted to have a conversation rather than have sex.

 I'm glad that she did turn around after Astrid talked to her, but I can't forget the first 100 pages of the book.  Also, I don't buy that "shit or get off the pot" was really about how Astrid should come out of the closet and not about how Dee wants her to put out or get out.  She said that after Astrid removed Dee's hands from her pants, not while they were having a conversation about coming out of the closet.  I think that weak explanation was thrown in to keep me from hating Dee but it so didn't work.

(show spoiler)

As I said, I did enjoy the book and I wasn't too bothered by the problems that I had with it (except of course for that last problem I pointed out.)  I liked Astrid and her friend Kristina.  Astrid called herself a pushover in the beginning of the book, but I think that she stood up for herself when it counted and I really enjoyed reading that.

Currently reading

Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Aliette de Bodard