Book Review: The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorani

32766747Title: THE LIBRARY OF FATES
Author: Aditi Khorani
Release Date: 2017
Pages: 315
Publisher: Razorbill
My Rating: ★★★★☆(4/5)
Review on Goodreads

This is a strange little book. I had wildly different expectations going into it; the blurb makes it seem like more of a political thriller (of sorts) but in actuality it is more like an extended folktale. There have been comparisons with The Star-Touched Queen, and I suppose in theme the two are quite similar, but this book is actually rather fast-paced, more of an adventure/journey story.

It begins with Amrita, princess of Shalingar, waiting on the arrival of Sikander, her father’s old friend turned enemy who she is to be married off to in an attempt to secure an alliance. Things fall apart, however, when Sikander makes it clear he has little interest in peace. Amrita finds herself on the run with an oracle named Thala, on a journey to save her nation from Sikander.

It starts off as your typical adventure fantasy novel, but it veers wildly into folklore territory, which I was not expecting! The novel’s ending, which left me undecided as to whether it was happy or tragic, deals with themes of fate, loss, and sacrifice. I was really surprised by the direction this took, but I loved it too. This is not something often seen in YA fantasy lit, and I was pleasantly surprised at the large, overarching themes discussed here.

Central to the story is something else not frequently seen in YA, which is the friendship and partnership between Amrita and Thala. Though the two girls come together almost by coincidence, they end up relying heavily on each other. Romance features in this book, but only on the periphery; it is tangential to the main plot.

My one complaint is the characterization. Perhaps this is because the book is written as a folktale, but I thought that several of the characters were blank slates. I struggled to connect with Amrita; I just couldn’t get a read on her. With Thala it was a little easier, but I still found the pair somewhat forgettable. Even their bond, which I appreciated, felt superficial.

Other than that I really enjoyed this tale. Standalone fantasy novels are few and far between, so this felt like a quick little treat. I also have to mention the writing, which was lovely; the author does a superb job utilizing sensory writing. Her descriptions of various settings were lush and vivid, bringing this folktale to life.

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Short Story Friday

short story friday

In my attempt to become a writer, I’ve taken to writing short stories.  One of them was recently published.  In an effort to improve my craft, I try to read as many short stories as I can.  I’m…rather picky when it comes to short stories, much pickier than when it comes to novels (which is rather contrary, but what can I say), so it’s not often that I find a short story that truly speaks to me.  I’ve realized that I would like to keep track of those stories that touch me or teach me something, and so that birthed a new idea: Short Story Friday.

On certain Fridays, I will share with you three short stories I have read that engaged me in some way.  This will also be a great way for me to encourage myself to read more short stories! I definitely don’t read enough.  And so, without further ado, I present my choices for this Friday:

TheDarkJuly2016-220x340Postcards from Natalie by Carrie Laban (The Dark, July 2016): I’m not too sure I entirely “got” this story (I mean, I think I did, but I’m not sure) because it’s one of  those that ends with a twisty bang, but a very subtle twisty bang. It doesn’t tell you outright what’s going on, but if what I think happened happened, then it’s a pretty cool story! Plus, it got me hooked from the start and built up the suspense so well I couldn’t stop reading, which for me is a difficult thing with short stories.


35712604Queen Aster Who Dances by Tina Connolly (Fireside Fiction, July 2017): Can you tell just from the title how cool this short little piece is? It’s a high fantasy and it’s written kind of like a soliloquy.  It’s about royalty and power and sacrifice and sisterly bonds.  It gives you delicious hints of a much broader, richer world that I would love to read more about.  I’m definitely going to check out this author’s novels!


51moM5lrNdLDon’t Turn On The Lights by Cassandra Khaw (Nightmare Magazine, October 2017): This is a delightfully creepy little tale – or is it several tales? Khaw begins by informing you that stories are mongrels, that many different versions of tales will always exists, and then proceeds to tell the same story several different ways.  Each version is creepier than the last.  The line “the air was the stink of piss and flayed meat” will haunt my nightmares for a very long time.

 

Wrap-Up: September

  • The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter (★★★☆☆)
  • Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert (★★★★☆)
  • Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker (★★★★☆)
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (★★★☆☆)

MONTHLY TOTAL: 4
YEARLY SO FAR: 60

Even though I only read four books, one of them was War and Peace, which counts for way more. I completed my Goodreads Challenge of 60 books with War and Peace, actually, which felt very fortuitous! The History of White People took me forever to read because I only read it when I was staffing the Reference Desk at work, and I finished it on September 1st.  Feels a little weird including it here, but oh well!

October should hopefully be a better reading month.  I’m currently reading Now I Rise by Kiersten White (the second book in that series), The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana, and Before They Were Belly Dancers: European Accounts of Female Entertainers in Egypt, 1760–1870 by Kathleen W. Fraser.

In terms of TBR, I need to read N.K. Jemisin’s The Stone Sky, to conclude the trilogy, before I head to the Sirens Conference at the end of October (I’ll be sure to post about that! Anyone here going?) since Jemisin is the keynote speaker! I’m also aiming to read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and my book club is reading my suggested book, The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani, so I gotta get on that too! I don’t know if I’ll have the chance to read anything else; this is already a pretty full list!

Happy Autumn!

Book Review: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

18245Title: WAR AND PEACE
Author: Leo Tolstoy, Anthony Briggs (Translator)
Release Date: 1868
Pages: 1357
Publisher: Penguin Classics
My Rating: ★★★☆☆(3/5)
Review on Goodreads

There are two things I want to say upfront before I (try to) get into the meat of an actual review.

First, having completed this book, I must say it is highly unlikely I would have picked it up or enjoyed it in the slightest had I not arrived at it by way of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. It is only with the musical’s vibrant characters in my mind that I was able to maintain my motivation to keep reading. That said, however, I will say that I hardly ever found the “peace” chapters dull or hard to get through. I just couldn’t connect with the characters very well. They were engaging, but I never cared about them as much as I hoped to (except for Helene, and possibly Anatole).

Second, what brings that book down to three stars for me is the insufferable, pedantic detail of the “war” chapters. Apparently Tolstoy is praised for his description of these battles. He does bring a certain realism to the forefront. However, I think that realism could have still been maintained even if huge chunks of these war chapters were pared down. There is just so much detail about random characters and random battalions and flanks and canons and other things I just could not bring myself to care about. And then of course there’s Tolstoy’s own philosophical interjections every now and again which I struggled to read without my eyes glazing over (Part II of the Epilogue…was an ordeal). I’m not going to go into Tolstoy’s philosophical beliefs or his views on history; I think his theories are best left to group discussions than book reviews (suffice it to say, if I understand Tolstoy correctly, I think I heartily disagree with many of his points).

The characters are the meat of this book. Tolstoy writes them well: they are all complex and varied and so different from one another you never had trouble telling them apart (well, the main characters at least!). And they are all so human in all their doubts and flaws. Despite the enormous cast of characters, I would say that there are really 3-5 main characters, in order from most to least importance/screentime: Pierre, Andrei, Nikolay, Natasha, and Marya (to my eternal disappointment, the Kuragins are really only very minor characters).

There are chapters upon chapters dedicated to Pierre and Andrei’s philosophical musings on life, which I found extremely irritating. It read like stream of consciousness at times. Andrei, as I’m told, is considered the Fitzwilliam Darcy of Russian lit, but I personally couldn’t stand him. I found him arrogant, brooding, and self-righteous. I know I’m supposed to have liked Pierre, and I didn’t dislike him, I just found his storyline meandering and dull (his whole thing with the Masonic Society was really weird and pointless). I’m rather ambivalent about Nikolay. I liked Marya a lot; I think she’s a fascinating character who really tries to embody goodness. And Natasha – the original Manic Pixie Dream Girl! Perhaps that’s a bit harsh, but I wasn’t at all fond of Natasha’s characterization. She almost always seemed to be described in terms of her affect on other people, particularly men, who were drawn in by her seduction and oddities, and yet her own inner life seemed strangely bereft. Perhaps this is an issue with the translation, but often I found her thought process and dialogue meandering and dramatic to the point of irritation. It was like she was written more as a spectacle, a phenomenon, than a character.

The two characters who intrigued me the most were not featured as much: Anatole and Helene. From the moment they are introduced they are fascinating and contradictory. Anatole is described as kind and generous and yet simultaneously utterly oblivious to the wants and needs of others, or to consequences. Helene enjoys a reputation as a clever high-society woman and yet is thought of as stupid by her husband, whom she seems to despise but tolerates for his ability to raise her status in society. In the musical we get many interactions between Anatole and Helene that show their intense sibling bond; in the novel, however, they barely interact. Rather than being shown we are told about their strong (perhaps incestuous) bond, yet we see very little to convince us of this.

Perhaps that is my issue with the whole book and why I had such trouble connecting. So much of it is told to us. I know it’s probably futile to talk about “show don’t tell” when it comes to an epic like War and Peace. Not just because it’s an epic, but because literary conventions have shifted so much since this novel’s publication that I as a reader am certainly influenced by my own expectations. But alas, my enjoyment of these characters was definitely hindered by my modern day conventions and expectations of literature, and I wanted to see so much more than I was told.

But still much of the novel was engaging and entertaining, though the war chapters did nothing for me whatsoever. The agonizing dullness of the war chapters may have been salvaged by beautiful writing, but the writing is plain and ordinary. Again I hesitate because this is a translation, and perhaps other translations capture a more lyrical tone, but in the case of the Briggs translation I found the writing rather dull and unadorned. It is certainly easy to read, but it also leaves you unaffected. Not once did I pause and admire the beauty of a particularly written sentence or paragraph.

I’m glad to have read this, and I did enjoy many parts, but overall this isn’t a novel that will stick with me or affect me in any way. I wish I felt what so many people do upon reading this novel – which is apparently some kind of grand appreciation for the human condition or something – but I don’t, sadly.

Book Review: Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

33574211Title: EMMA IN THE NIGHT
Author: Wendy Walker
Release Date: 2017
Pages: 320
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
My Rating: ★★★★☆(4/5)
Review on Goodreads

It’s difficult to find a thriller that doesn’t rest its laurels on the shocking twist at the end. Don’t get me wrong, shocking twists are great, and Emma in the Night certainly came through with that. However, I also found it to be quite an introspective book, detailing the harm inflicted on children by terrible, narcissistic, and incapable parents.

Emma and Cassandra Tanner’s lives are a medley of dysfunction and sexual impropriety, due not only to their narcissistic mother, but their gross stepfather and stepbrother, both of whom are sexually attracted to Emma. It is this dysfunction that seemingly leads a pregnant Emma to run away, with her younger sister Cass in tow. Three years later, Cass, and only Cass, returns, with a story about being held captive on an island with her sister Emma and Emma’s baby daughter. With the help of Dr. Abby Winters, a forensic psychologist with a narcissistic mother of her own, Cass’s story unravels and is put back together, and Emma is found in an unlikely place.

Like any good thriller, Emma in the Night is compelling, forcing you to ask questions and try to figure out what the heck is going on. But it is a sort of character study as well. Emma, the titular character, is a kind of vulnerable seductress, an insecure teenage girl utilizing the only power she thinks she holds. Her relationship with her narcissistic mother becomes is revealed to be more and more horrific by the second. Hunter and Jonathan Martin, the aforementioned stepbrother and stepfather, are both arrogant, privileged, and misogynistic men whose presence in the girls’ lives screws up their family even more. Their biological father, despite genuinely loving his daughters, is weak and cannot fight for them like they deserve. The girls’ mother, Judy, suffers from narcissistic personality disorder, and therefore is not a mother at all to her daughters, more like a rival.

And finally, Cassandra, the narrator, is a very quiet character, a young girl who has been fractured by the trauma in her past, but healed and became stronger because of it. I liked Cass way more than I thought I would. She is clever and manipulative, stoic and calculating, loving and loyal. Her relationship with her older sister Emma is frustrating and heart-breaking; it is at times sweet, at times utterly cruel, but the blame is to be laid at the feet of their mother, who does her best to break the girls apart so that they are not united against her.

Emma in the Night is a tragedy, the sad tale of two young girls’ whose lives are destroyed by their parents. It will keep you guessing until the end, and the final twist is maddening in its simplicity. There are certainly criticisms that can be levied at this book: the plot is somewhat convoluted, the actions of some of the characters at the very end are unbelievable and were moved only by plot, the story is conveyed through a lot of literal telling and very little showing, but ultimately those flaws work in the story’s favor, elevating it to wildly dramatic heights. With its colorful cast of characters, its dramatic twists and turns, and Cassandra’s soliloquy-like narration, and the allusion to the mythical Cassandra at the very beginning, this book nearly reaches Shakespearean levels of tragedy.

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Fancasts

Top Five Wednesday was created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey and is currently hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Check out the goodreads group to learn more.

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday is Favorite Fancasts, an awesome topic!

Y’all don’t know how much I struggled with this! I tried to think as outside of the box as I could.  Here goes!

JASMINE CEPHAS-JONES AS NINA ZENIK

I know the ages don’t match, as Jasmine is almost thirty, but Rachel and I were literally just talking about how amazing it would be to see Six of Crows turned into an aged-up gritty Starz/HBO show with Cillian Murphy playing Kaz.  If that ever did happen, there’s no one I’d rather have play Nina, who is my favorite character in Six of Crows.  Known mostly for her roles as Peggy Schyler and Mariah Reynolds in the musical Hamilton, Jasmine has also has some bit parts in TV shows here and there. She’s freaking gorgeous and has that spark of fire needed to play Nina.

ANYA TAYLOR-JOY AS AGNIESZKA

Ever since I discovered Anya Taylor-Joy in the rather terrible film Split, she has been my Agnieszka.  I wasn’t feeling up to changing hair colors in Photoshop, which is why she’s blond here, but have her dye her hair dark brown and she’d be perfect. In the book, Agnieszka is described as plain, and while Anya is anything but, I think she is not traditionally pretty and has a haunting, striking quality that would be perfect for this creepy fairy tale.

ANNA POPPLEWELL AS LADA DRACUL

And speaking of not being traditionally pretty! Personally, I think Anna is absolutely gorgeous, but she’s definitely unique looking.  Lada, a gender-bent alternate universe version of Vlad the Impaler, is described as ugly and hard-looking. I think that were Anna to go without makeup she would actually pull off Lada spectacularly.  She’s also got those clear, depth-less eyes that are more than a little creepy.  I’ve always wanted to see her play someone evil or morally ambiguous, and I think Lada could be a great, meaty role for her.

GOLSHIFTEH FARAHANI AS BARU CORMORANT

I don’t even remember what Baru looks like at this point, but I know I want Golshifteh to play her.  If you know me you know The Traitor Baru Cormorant is one of my favorite books, and it is one of the most heart-breaking things I’ve ever read.  Golshifteh always has this perpetually sad, pensive look to her that would make her excellent for Baru, an accountant turned rebel and spy fighting against the Empire that colonized her home.  I’ve always pictured Baru as somewhat serious and sharp-looking and I think Golshifteh embodies that aesthetic nicely.

GEORGIE HENLEY AS SAFIYA “SAFI” FON HASSTREL

Before anyone asks, I’ve actually never watched Narnia films, and it is by pure coincidence that Anna and Georgie both ended up on this list.  Anyway, when looking for someone to play Safi, I knew I wanted something different than the generically pretty blonde actresses I tend to see fancast as her.  Above all Safi is fiery, contrary, and mischievous, so I wanted an actress who could be very pretty but could also look just as comfortable plotting a heist.  For that I thought Georgie suited this role very well.

What are your thoughts on my choices? I loooove talking fancasts so please let me know in the comments!

Book Review: Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

25062038Title: LITTLE & LION
Author: Brandy Colbert
Release Date: 2017
Pages: 336
Publisher: Little, Brown
My Rating: ★★★★☆(4/5)
Review on Goodreads

Little & Lion is a sweet but hard-hitting story about a young black, Jewish girl coming to terms with her bisexuality while also struggling to do the right thing regarding her brother’s mental illness.

Suzette is back home from boarding school for the summer, after her parents sent her away in the wake of her brother Lionel’s diagnosis of bipolar disorder. She wants desperately to integrate herself back into her brother’s life, for things to be the way they were before, but Lionel is struggling to – he’s still adjusting to his mental illness and being on medication. Suzette is also fresh of a messy break-up at boarding school, and the guilt of it plagues her.

While this seems like your run-of-the-mill book on the surface, I thought it was a really powerful and emotional exploration of mental health, sexuality, racism, microagressions, and sibling relationships. But the best thing is that while the book does delve into all of these heavy subjects it never feels heavy-handed, like it’s preaching or trying to teach me something. It never feels artificial. It’s just this group of teens trying to deal with some very real issues while living their lives.

Brandy Colbert’s writing is lovely – too often in contemporary YA authors will rely on the plot itself to carry the book through, but it is clear Colbert has put careful consideration into her writing. Her words fly fast, and the book is engaging, but it’s not simplistic or juvenile. The many characters are all given ample room for self-expression; Suzette in particular feels so very real, a young girl trying her best to do the right thing while fighting off the way the world sees her. I also appreciated that her love interests were so different from each other – Rafaela in particular felt very realistic and actually inspired feelings of dislike in me. Not that she was a bad person, but her personality clashed with my own, which I enjoyed! I love it when characters make me feel something, even if it’s dislike; it means they’re well-fleshed out.

Something else that greatly affected me is the setting. The book takes place in Los Angeles, and perhaps this is this is the romantic in me (I…idolize California in a weird way though I’ve never been), but I thought Colbert did a spectacular job capturing the vibe of living in LA. The weather, the mountainous setting, the strip malls with their neon signs, the lazy summer nights. This book is hella atmospheric, and it made me feel like I was right alongside the characters in LA.

Creating atmosphere like that is difficult to do in general, but it’s especially difficult to capture in a huge, thriving city like LA. The way Colbert framed this story it was almost as though it were taking place in a separate, intimate pocket of reality, and that made me feel like I was a part of the story.

The End of the Year Book Tag

Saw this on Rachel‘s blog!

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

Well…not this year, but there is a book that I started one or two (or three) years ago that I still need to finish.  It’s The World Since 1945 by T.E. Vadney and it’s a really, really good historical overview of world events with a focus on the Third World.  I read like half of it and really enjoyed it but it’s also straight-up history so it does get a little dry.

Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

I don’t usually do this seasonal reading thing, but this year I thought I might read Rebecca for the month of October! Since it’s supposed to be ~atmospheric~ and all. But I also need to read The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin before the end of October because I’m going to the Sirens Conference in Colorado and she’s the keynote speaker! Not that I think she’ll spoil her book, but I’m sure there will be people in attendance keen to discuss it.  All  this, of course, is if I finish reading War and Peace, Little and Lion, and The Library of Fates by the end of September.

Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

What am I not waiting for, honestly? There are so many great books coming out. I’m especially looking forward to Madeline Miller’s Circe, Fonda Lee’s Jade City, Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, and Julie C. Dao’s Forest of a Thousand Lanterns.  There’s way, way more, but those are the ones that stick out.  (A couple of these come out next year, but alas.)

What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

So I mentioned Rebecca, there’s that.  Oddly enough, I also really want to read Wuthering Heights.  Maybe that can be one of my November books.  I’ve also heard great things about Amanda Foody’s Daughter of the Burning City so I want to get my hands on that.

Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year?

I have read so many great books this year, from Saints and Misfits to The City of Brass that I think it will be difficult for another book to top them, but we’ll see!

Have you already started making reading plans for 2018?

Nope! I don’t really plan out my reading schedule far in advance.  At most I have a sense of the next 3-4 books I want to read, but otherwise I just generally go by my mood.  The only thing I know is that I want to continue expanding my horizons.  Reading War and Peace was something I never thought I would do in my lifetime, and yet here I am, 60% of the way through and on my way to finishing! It was certainly not as daunting as I thought.  So I want to read more classic literature, mainly by women.  There are also some authors I keep seeing that I hope to get into, like Aliette de Bodard and Kate Elliot.

Go for this, y’all! Pingback to me if you do this.

Top 5 Tuesday: Books for Non-Readers

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Bionic Bookworm.

I actually know a lot of non-readers in my life, chief among them my brother, but someone like him is an adamant non-reader.  He simply refuses to pick up books. So I took this tag to be more about casual readers, less “I’ll only read if you pay me” and more “I’m looking for something really really specific and captivating”.

For the “I want fantasy and adventure” crowd:

21414439Truthwitch by Susan Dennard: Truthwitch walks the fine line between YA fantasy and adult fantasy.  It’s about two young women, best friends, who find themselves caught in political machinations beyond their control.  From the first page Dennard sucks you into a harrowing crisis, and from then on the fun never stops.  Dennard is fantastic at writing action scenes; she draws you in and doesn’t ever let go.  The characters are all super-well developed and the world-building is rich and detailed.

For the “I prefer romcoms” crowd:

28458598When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon: This book is hilarious and so much fun.  It’s about two Indian kids whose parents decide to set them up – only one of them is unaware she is being set up.  It’s such a sweet story about falling in love and family and cultural expectations.  It’s super light-hearted and ends happily in perfect romcom fashion.


For the “I need a mystery” crowd:

29276588Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia: Attempting to solve the mystery of a teenage girl’s murder in a small town, this book is your classic murder mystery/small town with secrets book.  I literally could not put it down. I think I stayed up until like 3AM reading it because I just could not stop and had to know who the killer was. The end was not shocking, but satisfying because it made sense.

For the “I need pictures and visuals” crowd:

29396738Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu: I’m not generally a graphic novel reader, but I’d heard such good things about Monstress that I had to check it out.  This is a whirlwind of a graphic novel, pulling in from so many different genres – horror, steampunk, high fantasy, science fiction – all blending seamlessly together in a matriarchal world filled with diversity of all kinds.  It’s definitely a lot to take in, but it’s really worth the investment, and it will keep you hooked. From the intricate story to the beautiful artwork, you will not be able to put this down.

For the “I only read non-fiction” crowd: 

8462352Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States by Joey L. Mogul, Andrea K. Ritchie, and Kay Whitlock: I’m a frequent non-fiction reader myself, so I had to recommend something in this category.  I actually read this book a few years back for a class in college, and I didn’t expect to like it so much.  It’s rare to come across a non-fiction book that is legitimately a page turner! This book details the treatment of LGBT people from when they are unjustly arrested and profiled to their treatment in the court and prison system.  It focuses heavily on intersections of race and class and is an absolutely eye-opening read for anyone with a rosy view of the US prison system.

I Dare You Book Tag

This weekend, I was supposed to finish off a book at home, considering War and Peace is taking up all of my subway reading time. Unfortunately, I instead got caught up watching Peaky Blinders (maybe I’ll post about that at some point).  So, instead, I figured I would do a book tag I saw floating around! Not sure where it originated from, so let me know if you know, so I can pingback to them.

RULES:
You must be honest
You must answer all the questions
You must tag at least 4 people

1. What book has been on your shelf the longest?

Yikes. I’m seriously guilty of buying books and telling myself I’ll read them but never getting around to them.  Maybe…The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe? I bought it way back in high school when I was seriously emo.  I realized too late that I wasn’t actually all that into Poe.

2. What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?

I am currently reading War and Peace, a beast of a novel, which is why I haven’t been posting reviews lately. My last reads were The History of White People and This Savage Song. As for what I’ll read next, it will likely be either Little & Lion or The Library of Fates.

3. What book did everyone like, but you hated?

I think I just talked about this in the last book tag I did, but I didn’t really hate The Wrath and the Dawn. A book I did hate is Marie Lu’s Legend.  I thought it was awful on just about every level, which is strange because I really loved her other series, The Young Elites.  Maybe I’m just not into dystopia.

4. What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?

Oh man. A whole bunch of classic/literary books, probably.  I’ve had The Odyssey on my bookshelf for years and keep telling myself I’ll read it, but…who am I kidding.

5. What book are you saving for retirement?

Well, perhaps not retirement, but I really want to have a lot of time and mental energy on hand when I start Steve Erickson’s Malazan series.  It’s such a dense, gigantic series with so many characters and so much rich world-building that I want to be certain I have enough time to devote to it.

6. Last page: read it first, or wait ’til the end?

Oh my goodness, I avoid this like the plague.  Even if I’m gonna check for a glossary or to see how many pages there are in a book, I will literally cover up the rest of the page. You see, I was scarred as a youngster. When Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince came out, I accidentally read a page towards the end and was spoiled for Dumbledore’s death. It was traumatic. Now I am always extra careful when flipping through a book.

7. Acknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?

I loooooooove reading acknowledgments; I legit look forward to them.  As an aspiring writer, I really enjoy seeing how authors sum up their work and the effort that went into it. And some authors can be quite witty in their acknowledgements.  It’s also very useful to see authors thank their agents, because when you start querying you might want to go find those agents and/or their literary agencies!

8. Which book character would you switch places with?

Probably Morgan Rowlands from Cate Tiernan’s Sweep series. Like, that series was absolutely formative for me as a teenager. I loved seeing Morgan go from shy high school teenager to powerful and respected witch.  Tiernan captured the beauty of Wicca and magick so effortlessly that I couldn’t help but want to be immersed in all that.

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time, person?)

Well, I do have a copy of The Stone Sky signed by N.K. Jemisin. I didn’t meet her or talk to her, but I did attend the book launching event for the book, where pre-signed copies were on sale. It was an awesome event; it felt so cool to be in the same room as so many Jemisin fans!

10. Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.

An ARC of The City of Brass! I was just browsing in and around the author’s Twitter when I saw the publisher had tweeted asking if anyone wanted an ARC! They DM’ed me for my address and a couple of weeks later I had the book!

11. Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?

Not a special reason, but I’ve given away some books that I know I won’t be reading again.  Mainly old Jodi Picoult books (I was obsessed with her books for a long time).

12. Which book has been with you most places?

Harry Potter, though not the same copies.  I’ve lost HP copies to flood and travel throughout the years, so in 2014 I bought a brand new set. But HP, particularly Sorcerer’s Stone, tended to come along with me if I was embarking on any brand new part of my life. So my first day of middle school in Egypt, my first day of junior year back in New York, my first day of college, my first day of work…it brings me comfort. It’s like having a friend with me.

13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?

Hmm, I actually didn’t hate most of my required reading in high school! I remember liking The Great Gatsby, The Color Purple, The Bell Jar, Pride and Prejudice, and Ethan Frome.  What I did loathe was The Scarlett Letter and a whole bunch of short stories.

14. Used or brand new?

Both! I absolutely love used bookstores, wandering the aisles and discovering a steal! But I really enjoy new books as well; I love the smell of brand new books.

15. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

Oh, man. He was another one I was obsessed with when I was younger.  I was really into The Da Vinci Code. Like, to an unhealthy extent.  This was my conspiracy phase, so I got really obsessed with all the history and secret groups mentioned in the books, as well as cryptography.

16. Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?

Twilight, oddly enough. I’m also reasonably sure that I’ll like the movie IT better than the novel. I mean, I’ve never read the novel, but that’s only because I really struggle to get into anything by Stephen King.

17. Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included?

Hmm…probably Game of Thrones! GRRM is so descriptive when it comes to food! I know some people are annoyed by that, but I enjoy it.

18. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

My friend Rachel @ pace amore libri because I think she really gets my likes and dislikes, and Chelsea @ Spotlight on Stories because we like a lot of the same things!

19. Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g., outside your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?

Well, I’m about halfway through War and Peace now, and that is definitely miles out of my comfort zone, but I wouldn’t say I love it. I like it well enough to continue reading it, but…I definitely have a lot of frustrations with it too.  I guess a better answer would probably be Sister of my Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.  It’s very literary fiction of a cultural bent, a coming of age story, about two girls growing up side by side in India.  Not something I would ordinarily pick up, but the fact that it was about India specifically drew me to it, since India tends to share a lot of cultural similarities with the Middle East, which is where I’m from. I ended up absolutely loving it mainly because of the bond between the two main characters. I’m a sucker for intense, sisterly female friendships (particularly ones that evolve into more than that, although that doesn’t happen here), and this book delivers.  Unfortunately I thought the sequel was terrible and unnecessary, but one day I will go back and read this book, since I read it for the first time way back in 2013.

I’m actually gonna tag some folks, hurray!

I tag:

Pace amore libri
Spotlight on Stories
Lost Purple Quill 
Perspective of a Writer
Words With Bri