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January 5, 2018

Books read in December 17

In which I ramble about books I read just last month.

01/ A girl called owl aka The lost frost girl by Amy Wilson > link
I guess I expected more but it seems to lack something. Owl's great but she seems whiney at times just like a normal child. But I kind of hope there might be an adventure or a long journey to find her father or even one to find herself but no. Owl didn't have to look far for her father. He just show up just like that. Honestly, I would have thought it would be hard to find magical creatures that aren't supposed to be seen. I do like Owl's friend Mallory. She seems like a regular kid and she is very supportive of Owl. Alberic, the new boy in school is another interesting character. Owl's story is worthy of being told but Alberic seemed to have a more interesting back story that I would rather read his story. There is also a second story in between Owl's narrative which sort of told the story of how Owl came to be. I think these little excerpts are sort of vague and slightly like half-told stories that even if you didn't read them, it wouldn't affect the story much.

Cover note: I love the cover and the title but the American release is retitled The lost frost girl and even though it sounded more fitting for the book, it just didn't sound as good to me. I do like the writing and how they reference sweaters as 'jumpers' and such but this is the UK edition. Who knows if they will change these things for the American version like they did with Harry Potter. I would say this is a so-so book. A kid might enjoy this book. As for me, I find very little enjoyment aside from all the mention of frost and ice and bits of magic.

02/ The mountain by Paul Yoon > link
To say these six stories are mostly sad stories is probably true but there are some lightness and hopeful glances toward the future. I like Yoon's writing a lot. But the stories themselves don't stand out to me but I did enjoyed reading them.

Favorite quote: "I did, as a child, think of New York as a kind of temporary station, and a temporary life where I never wanted anything, or pretended to not want anything, hiding that desire for a new bicycle or a comic book for that elsewhere we would most certainly end up in."
– from the story, Milner Field

03/ Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi > link
Whichwood is a companion to Furthermore which you really do not have to read as there are reminders of that book every so often but that book is much lighter than this one. The writing in Whichwood is wonderful just like Furthermore. Though there are some gruesome scenes/imaginary such as the process of washing corpses and also insect boy was a bit of surprise for me and I'm totally freaked out when I read about him but I'm a scaredy cat so other people might not freak out at all. To be honest, I was not going to read Whichwood because of these scenes which I knew are going to be there but then I really like Mafi's writing and I thought I should try it to see how much gruesome it will get and it sort of did but it is still a good story and there were little moments that just makes the book a little lighter. But I would not recommend this book for anyone under 13 but some kids don't get scare that easily. My favorite bit/part is when a parent asked the children if they need to use the bathroom - that is a bit of reality that really pops and adds some normalcy to this otherwise harsh fantasy world.

Favorite quote: "She was a girl who rarely spoke for fear of spontaneously combusting."

04/ Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, translated from the German by Anthea Bell > link
I was predisposed to like this - it's about books after all and it has the element of magic - that should be enough but strangely, I didn't care enough about the characters except perhaps Elinor who adores books and has a house full of books but her character has very little to do with the story. I wish instead of telling what happens now, they should have told what happened 9 years ago when Meggie's father, Mo, got the characters out of the book Inkheart and lost his wife 9 at the same time. But that's not the story here. For me, the book seems rather slow and that any action is a bit slow to come. And even though there is a happy ending, it just seems hardly worth the 500+ pages to tell it. Lot of people raved about Inkheart and their sequels but I don't know. I must be missing something because I find the book to be a bit boring and it took me almost a year and half to finish it because I keep losing interest. I guess I'm one of the few who does not like this book. I don't think I'll be reading the sequels.

05/ Shadows on the moon by Zoƫ Marriott > link
This book is divided in three parts with Suzume (the main protagonist) changing her name from Suzume to Rin and to Yue due to various circumstances and in a sense becoming a different person. I thought it was a bit much but now I think it's actually a good idea and also, if you just read the middle and the last part, perhaps it would not seem like Suzume suffered so much. It just feels like she keeps on suffering and suffering and suffering with no end in sight. Whatever happy moment this book gives, it takes it away very swiftly with something dreadful. Now I know she have to suffer, being that she is the Cinderella character (as this was branded as a Cinderella retelling), but isn't it too much? This book depresses me which is why I took to stopping and reading and stopping which is why it took months to even get to the middle because it seems rather painful to read about someone not only getting hurt by others but by her own hands. I do not like the self-harm scenes - they just give me the shivers.

As much as this book is overwhelmed with all of Suzume's suffering, I can't ignore the beautiful imaginary it provokes. I like the Japan setting. I like the idea of Cinderella having magic but I sort of don't like her magic - it seems it is used to hide her true self which sometimes is good and sometimes it's bad. I guess the focus is not the magic but rather the humane part of Suzume/Rin/Yue and how she survived and grew and learned.

Favorite quote: "I have been telling myself all week that I wanted nothing more than revenge now, that it was my only desire, and my only wish. It was not true. In the aching emptiness of my soul, there was room for one more wish, just as powerful as the first. I wished that Otieno would be happy."

06/ Replica by Lauren Oliver > link
The book is arranged that each story - Gemma & Lyra's - is on it's own. So which side you hold the book, is whose story you're reading. I read Lyra's story first though I don't remember why. But now I think I should have started with Gemma first because there's some info that is revealed that seemed to go before Lyra's story but either way, it doesn't really matter because you get the information anyway.

Duo perspective and duo romance - that's how I might describe this book but this is science fiction so it's not really about the romance but it's there with some kissing scenes. Gemma and Lyra sort of mirrors each other as their stories are interconnected and overlapped. I actually like this book more than I thought I would as I decided to read this on a whim.

I didn't care much for all the brand name clothes which I have no idea about as I don't care for brand names, but Gemma is a teenager so it fits. I like Lyra better than Gemma. I guess I just didn't like Gemma's teenage angst as she worries about her weight and how people think of her - all the normal teenage stuff. Lyra is less like a teenager, more like someone who didn't quite know what she is. She was brought up to think of herself not as a real person but more like a man-made creation that is brought into the world for just one purpose which I won't say because it gives the whole story away. But I do like how Lyra's perspective changed slightly throughout the story. There is a sequel titled Ringer which I will hopefully read later.

Favorite quote: "And for them the world was born, too, in all its complexity and strange glory. They had a place in it, at last, and so at last it became theirs to share. No matter what happened, no matter what trouble came, Lyra knew they would face it together, as they were then: turned human by joy, by a belonging that felt just like freedom."
- Lyra

07/ The loneliest girl in the universe by Lauren James > link
I really thought this was going to one of those love story in space but no. But I actually preferred that it wasn't. The little blur on the back of the book - Can you fall in love with someone you've never met, never even spoken to - someone who is light years away? -  is totally misleading but then the whole beginning of the story is misleading and it sort of makes me think that somewhere along the writing process, the author decided to change the story and it feels that way to me. But perhaps that is how the story was always going to be all along and I guess I missed the clues? It didn't matter. It was an enjoyable, suspenseful read though I didn't care much for the fan fiction parts but it is important to the story and the character of Romy so I suppose leaving them out would be like leaving out a missing part of the story.

Cover note: The cover is gorgeous and it sparkles, which you can't see in the image but it does. This is the UK edition so the U.S. release will probably have a different cover.

Favorite quote: "I'm balanced on the edge of oblivion with only a fragile skin of metal separating me from the void of space. My only choice is to carry on into nothing, until the day that The Infinity reaches a new star system and glides into orbit around a rocky planet."

Read any good books lately? Tell me your recommendation in the comments.
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