Photos: My Library Takes Shape

My reading corner
Chris and I moved into our new house a couple of months ago, and while we still haven't completely gotten our stuff organized, things are starting to come together.  Since it's just the two of us (for now), he took one of the three bedrooms for his office, and I took another for my library.

The shelves don't match, they are overflowing and double-stacked in some places, the books are completely unorganized, and I have yet to spend any real time in there doing what I intended to do, which is read.  But it's starting to feel like a cozy reading room, with my Aunt Mary Chair (also known as "The Ugly Chair"), which came from, you guessed it, my Aunt Mary.  It has this great pink fabric with birds all over it.  It matches absolutely nothing in my house, and I love it.

My mother suggested I have the chair reupholstered when I first took possession of it two years ago, as Chris and I moved into our apartment.  I balked at the idea.  "Reupholster it?  What's wrong with it??"  As if the garish fabric was the most beautiful thing in the world.  I think it's beautiful for several reasons: first, it came from my Aunt Mary, whom I loved dearly (and still do, even though she is in the great beyond).  Second, I'm a sucker for pink, and birds.  (Slight OT moment here - have you seen Put a Bird On It?  Chris showed me this video.  I didn't think it was as hilarious as he did, but I totally think of it now whenever I look at my chair.)  Third, it is a unique piece of furniture with a great background, and the fabric just works for it!  Yeah, this thing isn't going to get reupholstered anytime soon.  Funny thing is, my mother now agrees with me.  *sly smile*

Messy corner of the library
You've noticed on the chair is a white quilt.  Well, that was a housewarming surprise from my parents (Mom?  Was Dad involved?  Who knows.  Haha).  See, my mother told me when the lace from her wedding dress didn't really work with my veil, that she was just going to throw the thing out because it's ugly anyway.  This made me sad, because I love my mom's dress.  If I were a size two, I would have worn my mom's dress.  Alas, she was a skinny-minny when she got married, and I was not.  But I digress.  Instead of throwing away her gown (which I remind you, I love), she sent it off to be turned into a quilt.  Sewn together with some other fabric are pieces of the lace, and the satin (I think it's satin, I'm not up on my fabrics) from her dress.  Yes, my heart almost exploded from happiness when I opened it up and saw what it was.  Since I don't want it to get ruined, for now it will hang over my Aunt Mary Chair.  Hmm...I wonder if this corner is going to turn into the "things I cherish" corner...

Anyway, back to the library.  The next picture up there is of the other side of the room, kitty-corner to the reading corner.  The bookcase on the right is Chris's, and is full of his books, and the one on the left is mine, and is also full of my books.  The bottom shelf is empty right now because I moved a lot of the larger books to the bookcase by my chair, and to the bookcase in the living room.  I also got rid of a bunch of books (some by accident, but I guess if I haven't read them then I probably never would have), so there is some empty space for me to stretch the collection out a bit.

Eventually the plan is to have matching shelving, with the shelves all around the walls.  For now, it'll do.  I feel quite calm when I walk into that room, which is helped by the great window that takes up about half of the back wall and looks out on our back yard.  We got some really nice curtains for cheap for that room, and I like to point out how much I paid for them every time I give a tour ($5 in the clearance bin at Boscov's.  I know!).

In the living room I have my barrister's bookcase and the built-in that came with the house, both of which are pretty full of my special books and classics.  I hope to one day (soon) get the library organized and archived, so that I know what I have and what I'm missing.  I am still missing a few of my favorite books, but they've been missing through three moves so by now I'm sure they're gone.  I will replace them, someday.

It's nowhere near Belle's library in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, but it's mine.  And I'm happy to have it.

Just a few things.

I'm starting to feel like I'm reading the same book over and over again, so I've given up on YA for now and have moved back into adult fiction. Right now I am reading Madame Bovary, Janeology by Karen Harrington, and will hopefully be starting Dan Simmons' latest, Flashback, soon.

I am also working through my feelings of frustration at reading, because as much as I was enjoying the YA fiction I had been reading, there was a lot I was angry and annoyed with (see previous posts).  It got to the point I wasn't happy reading it anymore, because I just couldn't keep seeing the same old thing.  Even Delirium didn't live up to the hype I'd heard.  Maybe it's just disappointment, but I am starting to feel like there aren't a lot of great books coming out.

The fact that I have Flashback in my possession makes me giddy, though, because Dan Simmons is in my top five favorite authors of all time.  As a "grown-up" I find I'm more able to handle the horror aspects of his novels, so I'm really looking forward to getting into those books.

In talking with a writer friend, it was mentioned that I helped her fix some problems with her latest work, which really felt good.  She sent me a signed copy of the book, and I noticed that I'm mentioned, along with several others I know, in the acknowledgments.  That made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  I love being able to help writers, probably because I've lost sight of my own writing and long for a way to participate in the culture of authorship.  Maybe I should go into proof-reading, or editing, or something along those lines, because it's a great feeling knowing that when an author needs help, I can help, even if it's just with something small.  Since I haven't read the edited version of the book, that's something I'm excited to do once I finish Flashback.  My signed copy will go on a shelf, though, since I already bought my own on its release day.

I'll try to do more of this kind of post, and less of the reviews, since I have a feeling the reviews are boring people and I really wanted to get into how books fit into my life/how I mold my life around books on this blog, more than reviews.  As always, if you or a friend have a writing project and need an outside eye, I'm always here and ready to help.

Review: The Selection

The Selection (The Selection, #1)The Selection by Kiera Cass
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

ARGH ACK I DON'T WANT ANOTHER SERIES!!!!! *FLAIL*SPASM*TWITCH*

...Now that that's out of my system...

Seriously, I thought this was a stand-alone until I got to the end. Grr! So tired of authors who are completely incapable of wrapping things up!

...Now that THAT'S out of my system...

I really REALLY liked this book. So much so that I really REALLY wanted it to end with the first book. I don't want to have to wait until next year for book two, because this SHOULD have ended here. HERE. Not next year. NOW.

Yet again, my YA gripes have presented themselves. 1: series. 2: I have no idea what ANY of the characters look like. "Beautiful" does not tell us what they look like. 3: Love triangle. Both boys are sexy. Both boys like her. Both boys are complete opposites.

This review isn't very positive, even though I liked the book a lot. That's because I liked the book a lot and wanted to, you know, read the end. The "danger" was introduced very briefly and unsatisfactorily. I never truly feel that anyone is in danger, even if they're hiding in an underground vault, or behind bulletproof curtains. Aspen popping up at the palace was so predictable it was laughable. Of COURSE there's a girl there who's a megabitch and yet gets to stay anyway. Of COURSE Maxon doesn't see that she's a megabitch, because these morons never do.

Note to author: FINISH THE DARN BOOK. I want a conclusion, not a TBC! I get that there's a lot of money to be made on a series, especially for formulaic YA novels, but come on! This is a one-volume book at best.

But really, I liked this a lot, even if it sounds like I didn't. The writing was fun (albeit lacking in real technique), the story was fun (despite its predictability), and the only thing that could have ruined the entire thing for me that I'm really glad didn't happen was megabitch being a spy and turning in Aspen and America (America? Seriously?). I'll probably pick up book 2, and be even more disappointed when it turns into a book 3...and I will continue to perpetuate the cycle... If you don't like waiting for sequels, then just don't read it until next year and you're golden.

Oh and in case anyone's wondering...Team Maxon. Just sayin'.

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Observations on YA

As you can tell by all my recent reviews, I've been deep into YA fiction the last few weeks (months?).  There's so much coming out that I want to read, it seems like the genre has experienced an explosion and I don't want to miss anything good.  However, with all the reading does come some observations:

1. YA authors don't like to describe the main characters.  I first noticed this with Twilight (yes, I read book 1).  Bella isn't really described - we don't truly know what she looks like.  When all the snark started, many commentators speculated it was so that the reader could put herself into Bella's character and imagine that Edward was in love with HER.  The more YA I read, the more I think that's true.  I don't have a clear image of Cassia from Matched, or Eve from Eve (unless you count her red hair), or even America from The Selection (currently in progress).  The authors say "She was beautiful with long/short/wavy hair."  Great.  What does that even mean?  I think it's time for YA authors to take a class together on descriptive narrative.

2. Apparently, there can't be just one book.  Every book is "(Title) Chronicles Book 1" or what have you.  I love series as much as the next person, don't get me wrong, but can I please read a stand-alone?  Does every story really need to be told in 3, 4 or even 5 parts?  Another course suggestion: Conflict Resolution in 500 Pages or Less.

3.  Teens apparently only like reading about romance amid danger.  Think about it:  Juliette from Shatter Me loves Adam, and together they must brave the dangers of the Re-establishment.  Eve loves Caleb, and together they must brave the dangers of the king and his soldiers.  Cassia loves Ky, and together they must brave the dangers of their dystopian society.  Anyone seeing a common theme here?  I remember being a teen girl, and I remember how much I LOVED boys.  But I hardly wanted to read about loving boys ALL the time.  Course suggestion: The Inner Workings of Teen Girls.

4.  YA authors don't understand the concept of Sci-Fi.  I've read one good SF book for teens: Cinder.  Yes it's a series.  No, Cinder isn't exactly described very well.  Neither is Prince Kai.  Neither is anyone else for that matter.  Yes, there is a love-conflict.  But you know what?  It's REAL SF!  It's not just two teens falling for each other in a futuristic world where technology only comes into play when they're talking about what they're doing.  Cinder is a cyborg for crying out loud!  Most of the book is heavily focused on technology, interplanetary struggles, and other SF themes.  It's great!  I really wish that more YA authors, who are using futuristic technologically advanced worlds would do something more with it.  Make it more SF.  I know, if there are teens and even adults out there reading stuff like Cinder, they want more of it.  Course suggestion: SF Themes and How to Expand Your Horizons.

That's about all I have for now, although if you have more to add, feel free to comment!

Review: Cinder

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)Cinder by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a great beginning to what looks like an exciting trilogy. If you've read The Snow Queen and The Summer Queen, you will recognize a great attempt at world-building and technology. You will also notice a similarity in the main character to reject then accept her "fate," or rather what path her life is going to follow.

***THERE ARE A FEW SPOILERS BELOW***

Review: Eve

Eve (The Eve Trilogy, #1)Eve by Anna Carey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Eve was good, not great, but good enough to keep me reading through the whole thing. The fact that school becomes a dangerous place for Eve in the beginning sets up a very interesting premise - women used as breeding fodder to repopulate the earth. Only it's not a natural breeding - they are implanted with embryos and then forced to spend the rest of their lives strapped to gurneys, giving birth every 9 months to God knows how many children. I wish there had been a bit more information about that, such as how many children they gave birth to at a time. There was mention of a "litter" and their stomachs being unnaturally bloated with children, but were there multiples in there? How many? Will we find out in the second installment of the series?

OK, here's my gripe: Why is it that every single YA book that comes out now is suddenly part of a series? Are YA authors unable to write a one-book story? Is it impossible for them to resolve a story in one volume? I honestly thought Eve was a stand-alone until I got to the end, at which there was no end, and saw the ad for Once in the back of the book. Really? I really thought this was going to be a stand-alone with a resolution at the end.

End of gripe. I guess it's the new "thing" today. Oh well.

***There are a few minor spoilers after this point***

Review: Crossed

Matched (Matched, #1)Matched by Ally Condie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are no real spoilers in this post, fear not!

I wouldn't call this great fiction, nor even great YA fiction, but it was definitely something I really enjoyed reading. It started off a little slow. I still don't know what any of the characters *look* like. I'm left with blank faces in my mind, which can get irritating. But I'm finding this is more and more common among YA writers - don't describe the characters, let the readers see who they want to see. Is this beneficial? I'm not sure yet.

What I am sure of is that this book really sucked me in. I started and finished it in two days (one day I was super sick and the second day I stayed up until after 11pm to finish, and I'm usually in bed by 10 because of my early mornings - yes I am an old fart). It was engrossing from start to finish, I wanted more and more and more. What was going to happen between Cassia and Ky? Was she going to kiss him in the end? Would it destroy her world? What exactly was going on between Cassia and Xander? Was Xander only in love with her because of the Matching? Was Ky? AAHHH!!! So many questions!

This was certainly YA dystopian fiction, and it was good stuff. I didn't enjoy it as much as some of the other YA dystopian fiction I've read, but I definitely liked it a heck of a lot more than Shatter Me, which made me want to throw up. (Hmm...maybe that's why I was so sick on Saturday after finishing it the day before...)

I'm looking forward to the next book, even if the reviews are less-than-stellar. I'm really glad I gave this one a shot, because the last one I read (Shatter Me) left me with a bad taste in my mouth for YA fiction - it was depressingly bad, and this was definitely an uplifting book in the sense that it brought me out of my YA funk and back to the real world of books. Yay!

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Review: Shatter Me

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I have wanted to read this for months. MONTHS. I placed a hold on it at the library finally when I wasn't having any luck getting it through BooksFreeSwap. It sounded SO GOOD. Sure the concept was familiar (Rogue from X-Men, duh), but it sounded like it had been done completely differently.

Well, my eagerness and excitement was disappointed. The strikethroughs throughout the entire book put me right off. The stream-of-consciousness style writing was done very poorly. And in the end, everything happens just a little too easily, and remains unexplained in every way at the conclusion of the book.

**SPOILERS BELOW**

Review: Dance of Thieves by Mary Pearson

Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson My rating: 5 of 5 stars I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley for review purposes. ...