YA Holiday Roadtrip

YA Highway just finished Friday with different questions and things to answer in a five-day road trip carnival. I just found out about it the other day, and since it's still the holidays and the year is soon over and because I felt like it I decided to see what I could come up with.

I'm not going to answer all of the questions because I seriously can't think of answers for all of them. This is part of the reason why Top Tens are so challenging for me- I have the hardest time remember all the books I've read farther back than 3 or 4 months, and then I also can't remember when I read them, or why exactly I did or didn't like them. Ramble ramble ramble, long story short, these are only some of the answers.

Also, these are books not necessarily released this year, just that I read this year.

From the first day, Monday the 24th, here's the questions I chose to answer:

 Best Book Of The Year: I have troubles choosing favourites, but the ones that stand out the most are The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, Forever AND Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater.

Most Unexpectedly Delightful Book Of The Year: I'm thinking this might be Anna and the French Kiss, seeing as I held out for so long to read it and was prepared to have it disappoint.

Book I Can't Get Out Of My Mind: 

Best "New To Me" YA Author: Maggie Stiefvater, hands down. She's now one of my favourite authors.

From the second day, Tuesday the 25th:

Best Sequel: Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater. I love this book so incredibly much, it really captured my mind.

Best Debut: Hmm.... tough one. I think Anna and the French Kiss may have been one of the best debuts I've read.

From the third day, Wednesday the 26th:

Best "I Want to Go to There" Setting: Tortall, hands down. Always, always, always want to go to Tortall from Tamora Pierce's books.

Favourite YA Characters: Etienne St. Clair from Anna and the French Kiss, Ismae from Grave Mercy, James from Lament and Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater, and Cole from the Shiver trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater.

From the fourth day:

Best in YA films/television: Does Disney's "Brave" count as YA? Hahahaha.... Umm, Avengers I think? HUNGER GAMES. And that is all I can think of. See, I told you I was bad at these!

Best Music to Write To/Be Inspired By: During November, NaNoWriMo, I tended to gravitate towards Songza, using, mostly, one of the Indie Coffeeshop playlists to listen to. I like the more alt-pop/rock whatever you call it, and also stuff like Imagine Dragons and Neon Trees and Fine Frenzy are good for me to write with.

From the last day:

Most Anticipated Book Releases in 2013: Tamora Pierce is coming out with a World Companion Guide to Tortall. Saying I'm excited for that is the understatement of the week.

Most Recommended (By Me): Anything by Tamora Pierce or Maggie Stiefvater. Anna and the French Kiss. For historical fiction lovers, Grave Mercy and The Gathering Storm. 

Have a good New Years Eve, if it isn't already 2013 for you! And a late Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, if you celebrate(d) any of those!

See you next year!



Short Story: "Eyes"

Hey, all you Write Readers! I have something a bit different for you today... For those of you who have been reading our blog since the beginning, (we love you!) you may already know that we have had plans to include our own writing on this blog, as well as the reviews that we post. We still have bigger plans in that regard in the works, but for now, I wanted to share a little tiny short story I wrote a few weeks back that I am very proud of. I decided to write it on a whim, I wasn't in the best mood that day, and Rachel suggested I write! She knows me too well that one... writing always does make me feel better... :) 

Anyways, here is my short story, called Eyes. I hope you like it! 

I stared into his eyes. I felt like I was staring at a brick wall. They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, but to tell you the truth, I wasn't so sure with this doorknob. I could never tell what he was thinking. And it certainly didn't help that he never SAID ANYTHING. Whenever I tried to have heart to heart with him, he would just STARE. It's like, dude, do you even know what to do when someone is talking to you? You REPLY. Speak. It's not that difficult. Open your mouth. And SAY SOMETHING. Don't just sit there. It pissed the heck out of me.

He blinked. I was about ready to slap him silly.

"Well?" I said impatiently. Actually, impatient is not a harsh enough word to describe how I was feeling.

"I dunno." he finally mumbled. Well then. I should have guessed it. Of course his reluctant reply would be something entirely impossible for me to work with. How in hell did I get stuck with this guy? What did I ever see in him? I should just leave. I thought to myself. No, I couldn't. What would he do about the... situation? But what could I do to help him with that if he refused to talk to me about anything? God, why was this so incredibly infuriating?

"What did she say?" I asked him, trying to calm myself down. It wasn't going to help me any to get angry. As much as I wanted to right now. He would just back off like last time, and not even give me useless replies like 'I dunno'.

I waited for a couple minutes, giving him a chance to respond. His gaze had shifted to the floor. His messy blond hair was shining in the warm afternoon sun. "Drew?" I prodded again.

"I love you." He murmured. My heart skipped a beat. My breath caught harshly in the back of my throat, and I almost started coughing.

"W-what?" I said, quieter this time. All of my previous anger and resentment had vanished.

"That's what she told me." he said, still staring into the cracked concrete sidewalk. "She said 'I love you'."

"Oh." My heart fell. Of course he wouldn't have... I was being stupid. The fire of my anger started to regain prominence within me.

"So... what should I do?" Drew looked up at me now, his stunning brown eyes looking inquisitively into my own pair of the same colour. He was finally opening up, after all this time, finally revealing his soul to me. Too bad the curtain of my own jealous rage prevented me from noticing.

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, and wish you a Happy New Year! Prepare for an epic 2013 jammed packed with more original writing like this from the both of us! 

keep readin' it write! 


Review: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.

           This book is very different than any book I have ever read before. Which to be honest, was a refreshing change from the YA fantasy and sci-fi I generally gravitate to. I haven't had much time to devote to this blog lately (ULTRA SAD FACE), or much time to devote to reading at my own leisure (RIVER OF TEARS), so this book is actually one that we studied in my IB English class... it feels like cheating, using it for both, but I hope you will forgive me. :) And plus, I felt it would be a nice addition to this archive of reviews we are slowing stockpiling on this here blog. A nice twist. I hope you agree.

           So the main differentiating factor between this book, and books I normally read, was that Persepolis is actually a graphic novel. And a damn good one at that. The author, Marjane Satrapi, is an AMAZING cartoonist, and her artwork brought so much to the depth and complexity of the story. It was all in black and white, so shadows and light gave each scene a very interesting feel. Even though she lacked colour, Satrapi still managed to succeed in translating the raw emotions that the characters were feeling. This book was literally bursting with reality, and truly alive. The almost amateur style of drawing also emphasized the naive narrator that Satrapi decided to use, which I will touch on in more detail in a few... 

           I am not Iranian, and I have never learned about Iran or it's revolutions in detail until this year, so this book's narrative was very informative and eye-opening for me. I learned a whole heck of a lot about the culture, and the strict society that Iranians lived through. It was very interesting to me. And seeing it all through the young eyes of protagonist Marji added a lot of depth and complexity to this otherwise hard to relate to tale. 

           Marji starts off as a young, naive 10 year old girl, whose sole ambition in life is to become the last prophet. She has a very deep connection with God, and sees him as a good friend that she can turn to at any point in her day to day life and just talk to. People around her don't quite understand this relationship, so she is seen as a bit of an outsider. Marji is different from all the other kids her age. But that soon changes. As Iran enters a state of war and rebellion, Marji grows and develops, physically, mentally and emotionally. She begins to question all the things she took for granted and blindly believed as a child. The incredibly real situation of the war influences the way she looks at life, and the choices that she makes. 

          Satrapi's choice of naive narrator for Persepolis really fits. I really do think that it was the best choice for this particular story. As an outsider to the Iranian revolution, I have no way to connect with the story itself. I have no idea what it would have been like! But having Marji as a young, humorous narrator, it becomes easier to relate and fully understand and appreciate what Satrapi has to say. Just having a little girl's eyes as the lens from which you view this world through, makes everything a bit lighter, and clearer in some respects. Children often don't think and analyze things as deeply as adults do, so gut feelings are depended upon more than logic. This fact prevents the story from becoming really heavy and hard to read, which a dark story like this could have easily become. 

          What makes it even more intriguing is the fact that Marjane Satrapi wrote Persepolis based on her own life experiences! To me, that brings in a whole new level of complexity and emotion to the story. Just thinking that a lot of the terrible events in this book actually occurred... It's really eye-opening stuff...but don't let that worry you! It's not all dark and miserable.  I really enjoyed this book. It's a quick and easy read, and it even has some laugh out loud moments! Humour, suspense, drama, and love... what else could you want from a book?! (There's also a fabulous movie adaptation of this book, which I loved!) 

PS: This is only the first half of the Persepolis story. There is a Persepolis 2!

The Good: Fantastic artwork, naive narrator brings humour, very informative. 
The Bad: Dark and disturbing at times. 
The Verdict: 4.5/5 

keep readin' it write!

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