A tale of fail and endless excuses.

Two months later, I am finally updating this blog to make more excuses and let anyone who reads this know that I plan to remain on this awkward hiatus until late May. This has been an incredibly difficult semester at school and rather than try to revive this place and put more on my overloaded plate, I’m going to officially give myself the time I need to sort things out before I return to blogging.

In the meantime, I’m reading as much as I can and following more blogs to inspire me. What is your favorite book blog? I need more on my reader page!

Thanks, and see you soon!

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WWW Wednesdays: February 5, 2014

It’s been over a month since I last did this meme, so why not! (Hosted by Should Be Reading.)

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

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I am currently reading Republic of Wine by Mo Yan. I just started it last night so I can’t say much about it yet, but I’m excited! In December I thought I was going to marathon all of my Mo Yan novels, but I got distracted by new books as usual.

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Last night I also finished reading Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. I had an unfortunate introduction to Atwood in the form of The Handmaid’s Tale in my tenth grade English class, but after hearing so many readers praise her since I’ve decided to give her a second chance. Surprise, surprise, I really liked this novel! I plan to read the rest of the trilogy as well.

As for what I’ll read next, I have no idea. I have a big stack of TBR books and they all look good. I’m leaning towards one of my newly purchased books but we’ll see if I feel like continuing on with Mo Yan after Republic of Wine.

New Books! February 5, 2013

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After working my way through the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series, I decided to reward myself with some new reads. Honestly, I don’t think I can go a month without getting new books, though I’m trying to hold off a little so I can catch up onall of the books I haven’t read yet. This is going to be a month of trying new things and hopefully liking them!

  • Oryx and Crake is the first novel in a trilogy by Margaret Atwood, whose work I’ve been avoiding thanks to a minor high school reading trauma
  • The Bone Season was published in the last couple of months by a brand new author. As with all YA novels, the reviews are mixed, but I decided to give it a try.
  • Then there’s the Beautiful Creatures series, which also has very mixed reviews but it was recommended to me by a reader I respect so I’ve been excited to try it out. Hopefully I like it, since I couldn’t resist getting the whole set of for books!
  • Last but not least I discovered The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms through Gabriella at Book Bound and was really, really intrigued. I’m always looking for a new fantasy series to start.

I’m super happy with this month’s haul because I’m giving YA books a try again (I tend to avoid them due to constant disappointment) and because all of these books are by female authors and I’m trying to make a conscious effort to discover and love more women writers.

Have you read any of these books/authors? Let me know what you thought of them!

Classics Club February Meme: Question #19

The Classic Club’s question for this month is as follows:

“Dead white guys” are all too often the focus when it comes to discussions of the Western Canon. We’d love to see members highlight classic works or authors that are overlooked in the canon that deserve recognition. Pick one/or more and tell us how their work resonates for our century and/or for you. As always, you determine what is a “classic” in your point of view, including works from 2000+, and works from anywhere in the world. // Or, if you have trouble thinking of an author/work to highlight, you could simply discuss the topic itself: What is “The Western Canon” — have you thought about who/what determines which works are recognized from human history?

I was first introduced to the concept of the “canon” in one of my first classes as an undergraduate English major. Every day we discussed what was considered “good literature” or “important works” and how racism, sexism and social issues have been affecting who or what gets included in the canon. A readers I believe it’s important that we’re aware of the prejudices that go into lists of “good books” and try to be critical of such lists. Nowadays there are numerous lists of books to read, which I’m happy to say do tent to include a wider variety of authors. Slowly but surely I think we’re all becoming more aware and more interested in reading works by diverse authors, which I think is a good way to open your mind to new cultures and ideas. To answer the second question, history is always written by those in power, ignoring the voices of the oppressed and powerless. In order to completely understand the world, we need to hear all voices, and literature is one way of doing that.

As for who I believe should be included in the canon, one author comes to mind simply because for so long he’s been denied official recognition of literary society despite his popularity and, in my opinion, the perspective and unique nature of his work. Haruki Murakami is a popular Japanese author whose works have affected me personally for years now. There’s a running joke among his fans about how he’s never received the Nobel Prize for literature, though there’s always a tinge of genuine dismay. Murakami is open with his distaste for literary society and he doesn’t much care about how other people view his work, but as a reader and a fan, I’d like to see him earn the recognition I think he deserves.

Sunday Stealing, “Not All Who Wander Are Lost”

In past few weeks I have neglected this blog terribly. School started two weeks ago with all of its usual stress and panic, and for a while I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep this blog at all. I’m still not sure how well I’ll be able to update, but I plan to try. I have a backlog of reviews to write, but for today I was inspired to update thanks to a meme I saw on a journal I follow. The meme is from a blog called Sunday Stealing, and doesn’t deal with books or reading but struck me as something I could do to try and get back in the habit of updating this thing.

  1. Put your music player of choice on shuffle and list the first song. TWO, by Chemistry.
  2. If you could spend a week anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? Would you take anyone with you? Thailand, specifically the town I taught in for a year, Phanom Sarakham. I miss Thailand- my friends, my students, the lifestyle- every single day. I plan to go visit for two weeks or so next January but it feels like forever from now.
  3. What is your preferred writing implement? (eg. Blue pen, pencil, green pen) Some form of black pen. I use whatever pens happen to be lying around me. For school I’m using a pen I took from a Marriott Residence in while at home I’m using one from a Hollywood Suites by Hilton.
  4. When did you go on your first trip alone (without your parents)? I’ve been on several small trips with my boyfriend, but the only time I truly traveled completely alone was to Thailand. Go big or go home, right?
  5. Do you have connections to any celebrities (even minor)? List them. My mom’s cousin was once a pro wrestler, and I taught a girl whose older brother was a model?
  6. Name 3 items you could pick up from where you are. An empty cereal bowl, a purple pen, PS3 controller.
  7. How would you describe your sense of humor? Goofy but often sarcastic, especially when annoyed.
  8. Do you ever play board games or other non-computer games? Got any favorites? I love card games, Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity, ImaginIf and Life.
  9. A musical artist you love that isn’t well known. To most of the Western world, all of them. I primarily listen to Asian pop.
  10. A musical artist you love that is well known. I like a lot of R&B artists: NeYo, Bruno Mars, Jay Sean, ect.
  11. What is your desktop background currently? VIXX, my favorite Korean boy band.
  12. Last person you talked to, and through what you talked to them. My mom, in person. Last night I spoke to my boyfriend over the phone.
  13. What do you carry your money in? A cheap Avengers wallet I bought at Ross.
  14. What timekeeping devices are in the room you are currently in? Just the digital clock on my desktop.
  15. What kind of headphones do you use? A pair of black over the ear headphones, I’ve forgotten the brand name. I also have a pair of Sony earbuds in case over the ear headphones are ever too inconvenient, but they hurt my ears.
  16. What musical artists have you seen perform live? Korean: Wonder Girls, 2PM, VIXX, MBLAQ. Taiwanese: Show Luo, Rainie Yang. I’ve seen way too many Thai artists to list.
  17. How often do you clear your browser history? At home, once every few months. At work I clear it at the end of the week.
  18. What’s the best job you’ve ever had? Teaching English in Thailand. I’ve never enjoyed working so much or felt so fulfilled and positive at the end of a work day.
  19. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? My current job, which I’ve had off and on since I graduated from high school. I work in human resources as some form of assistant just so I can pay for school.
  20. What magazines do you read, if any? I subscribe to Bookmarks and World Lit Today and highly recommend both of them. I find so many new books to read through them.

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

sTitleThe Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson & The Olympians #2)
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: Children’s fiction, fantasy
Rating4/5

A new year, a new school to get expelled from. Sea of Monsters begins with Percy at his latest school, a feel-good new age school, and he’s managed to make it almost a whole year. He has a new friend- a giant, childish outcast named Tyson- and of course a new set of bullies bent on making his life hard. When the bullies gang up on Percy and Tyson during a dodge ball match with a group of visiting students who happen to be inhumanly strong cannibals, well, long story short the gym goes up in flames and Percy’s on the run all over again.

With the help of his friend Annabeth, Percy and Tyson escape to Camp Half-Blood, which Percy not only has to face the fact that his new buddy is a cyclops but is also Percy’s half-brother. Percy doesn’t have much time to process everything, though, because his best friend Grover is missing, he’s having dreams where Grover is trapped in a cave sewing a wedding dress, and the magical tree that has been protecting Camp Half-Blood has been poisoned, more than likely by their old friend-turned-enemy, Luke. A quest is in the air, and thanks to their new activities director, Tantalus, it’s bestowed upon… Clarisse, the bullying daughter of Ares who, by the way, wants to murder Percy. Surprise, surprise, Percy and his friends sneak off in the middle of the night to (hopefully) save the day.

To answer the question I posed in my review of The Lightning Thief: did Sea of Monsters maintain the momentum and keep me interested? Absolutely! The fast pace of the plot keeps the story from dragging. A lot of the themes remain the same and the stories are predictable, but the characters and adventures are so much for that you hardly notice. I like that Riordan brings in new characters on both sides to keep the pool fresh while continuing to develop his main characters. Tyson was a surprising and endearing new character who allowed for Percy to recognize some of his faults and become a better protagonist. Riordan also ends the story with one hell of a cliffhanger, which makes it impossible not to immediately continue to the third book.

One of the prevalent themes in this series is the questioning of authority. I like that Riordan encourages kids not to follow their elders and superiors blindly, and to stick up for themselves and their friends. Riordan is careful to also include moments where Percy wants to rebel really badly, but he recognizes that he needs to respect that particular symbol of authority. A good example of this is the camp director Dionysus, or Mr. D. Mr. D appears blase and indifferent to the fates of his campers, and Percy is constantly questioning whether Mr. D has their best interests in mind. However, Mr. D is a god, in a position of power, and Percy doesn’t really know Mr. D’s intentions yet, so he holds back around him.

I became much more emotionally invested in Percy as a character through this book, and I look forward to seeing how he grows up and develops throughout the series.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

lTitleThe Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & The Olympians #1)
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: Children’s fiction, fantasy
Rating4/5

After reading nothing but full-length novels and short story anthologies the past month or so, I was more than read to sit back and get lost in a fun series. The first installment of Riordan’s Percy Jackson & The Olympians series definitely did the trick, as I’m almost done with the third book after starting the series five days ago. I chose this series because I’ve been interested in Greek/Roman mythology since I was a kid and because a number of friends recommended it to me. I’m so glad it lived up to my expectations!

Percy Jackson is a twelve year old with ADHD, dyslexia and a serious knack for getting expelled from schools. When his math teachers spontaneously sprouts wings and tries to murder him during a field trip, he starts to realize that his life isn’t going to get any easier. After being pursued by monsters and losing his mother, Percy ends up at Camp Half-Blood, a summer training camp for the children of the gods, or demigods. It turns out Percy is the son of Poseidon, the sea god, Zeus believes he’s stolen a lightning bolt more powerful than all of the world’s nuclear weapons, and technically he’s not even supposed to exist. He begins his first quest to bring back the bolt and clear his name, and try to find his mom along the way.

What I liked most was Percy’s distinctive voice as he narrated the story. A big problem I have with a lot of children’s and young adult fiction is voice. These genres more often than not nowadays use first person, which is only an effective tool, in my opinion, if you can create an interesting and engaging narrative voice. Nothing is more boring than bland first person POV. Percy’s voice is anything but, and we see his world through a very believable set of twelve year old boy’s eyes. The narrative is hilarious and fun to read, and Percy is both a likable and sympathetic main character.

Considering this is a book for children, and I come from a teaching/education background, I do look at series like this a little critically. I like that this series has a number of strong female characters and that their strength isn’t questioned or made fun of by the male characters. I do wish the story wasn’t so dominated by male characters, but I’m hoping that improves as the series progresses. I also like how Riordan found a way to put a positive spin on ADHD and dyslexia, which still have such a stigma in schools.

If you’re looking for a fun, lighthearted series to lose yourself in, I definitely recommend Percy Jackson & The Olympians. I will continue to review the books as I finish them to see if the series can maintain the momentum of the first.