monday memories - east of the sun and west of the moon

Emma of Miss Print and Nicole at The Book Bandit have started a new weekly feature called Monday Memories.  To participate, all you have to do is take a photo of one of your books (or a library book that means a lot to you) and talk a bit about why it made an impression.  Today I'm going to talk about Kay Nielsen's illustrated masterpiece East of the Sun and West of the Moon.

kay nielsen fairy tale art

My love of reading is no accident - I come from a family of strong women who read (and gift) books to their daughters.  East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales From the North was a gift from my great-grandmother to my grandmother for Christmas in 1926.  1926!  My grandmother was seven years old that year (and she's still reading every day - I hope I'm doing the same at 95!).  In time, she read it to her own children, and when I was a kid she sent it to my mother to share with my siblings and me.  When my parents downsized their book collection, I asked for it.  It remains one of my most precious possessions.

It's a beautiful book, and even better, it's well-preserved.  I don't know how, exactly, as it has by now been through three generations of children, and kids can be pretty careless when it comes to books.  There is one illustration and a couple of other pages with enthusiastic pencil scribbles all over them, but otherwise the text is pristine.

And what pages!  This is an Art Deco-styled piece of, well... ART.  From the endpapers to the in-text black-and-white prints to the full-color illustrations pasted in (they were printed separately and then painstakingly inserted onto individual pages by hand!), it's all beautiful.  That visual splendor is why my childhood self adored this book, but now it's the sentimental connection that makes it dear to me.  I open it occasionally when I need to bask in the glory of books and family history.  Or when I want to reread some of my favorite fairy tales.  I've loved fairy tales from the very beginning, and I've never stopped.

As you can see, the art is a combination of patterns, wistful, magical illustration, and text design.  The pages are heavy, creamy and substantial, the letters slightly indented from the printing method.  They just don't make books like this anymore.  It's truly a treasure.  Thank you great-grandmother, Nana, and Mom!  I adore this book.

If you'd like to see more Monday Memories posts, head over to this week's link list.

#diversiverse (in which i challenge myself to read diversely)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 | | 3 comments
I’m sure my fellow bloggers will agree that one of the most wonderful things about blogging about books is that you discover new worlds and authors every day.  But even if you’re immersed in the world of books, it’s easy to continue with blinders on.  Whenever I catch myself thinking that I read widely, I give myself a thorough shake.  I don’t.  I try (sometimes), but mostly I stick to familiar categories, authors, and suggestions by a few select reading friends.   That’s why I was so glad to see that Aarti at Book Lust is hosting A More Diverse Universe (#diversiverse for short) challenge for the last two weeks in September.


So what’s all this about then?  The challenge:

    Read and review one book
    Written by a person of color
    During the last two weeks of September (September 14th - 27th)

It’s so simple.  It’s simple, unless you (like me) don’t pay much attention to authors while reading unless they’re FAMOUS (imagine that all in lights!).  And I should be paying attention to the authors I’m reading, because, to quote Aarti, “[T]he media we consume does not accurately reflect the diversity of our society.  And books are such a massive part of the media we consume that we should demand and fight for those that do represent minorities and those that do present the world from a different perspective than the one we are used to.”  Basically, I know I should be doing better, I should be finding new voices and broadening my horizons, and this is my chance to begin.  I’m also excited (as always) to find that new story or character that will change my life.

If you’d like to sign up to join the fun, check out this post.  And if you’re interested in resources for reading more diversely (i.e. how do I find the books?!), Aarti has covered that too.  Keep an eye out here from September 14-27 – I’ll post a couple of reviews (and maybe even a giveaway).

top ten underrated books in young adult science fiction

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 | | 7 comments
Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where we all get to exercise our OCD tendencies and come up with bookish lists.  If you’d like to play along, check out this post.

top ten tuesday

This week’s list is my favorite kind of list.  Why?  I get to draw attention to awesome books that have been overlooked or underrated (at least, I think they’ve been overlooked – I am not infallible, though).  Young adult science fiction is a hot commodity right now, but it hasn’t always been, and I think that’s why some of these titles have languished: pure timing.  Others are more character-driven than plot-driven, and perhaps that made a difference.  I can only guess really, because I think they’re great.  This list is my attempt to sway you to the dark side (my side!).  So, pick one up!  These are great books and they deserve great readers.

Top Ten Underrated Books in Young Adult Science Fiction

1. Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci – Not ready to commit to reading a whole novel just yet? Check out Castellucci's short story for, We Have Always Lived on Mars. Should give you a feel for how awesome her sci-fi is. (the answer = VERY. very #awesome.)

2. Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve – Perfect for upper middle grade as well as the young adult crowd, with steampunk flavor.  It’s high-stakes mystery featuring a memorable heroine.

3. A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix – Garth Nix isn’t exactly an unknown – his Abhorsen series is big in fantasy, after all.  However, buzz for this standalone sci-fi title faded almost as soon as it was released in 2012.  I really liked the character development and travel-across-the-universe plot.  And if you’re into early dystopian YA, another Nix standalone, Shade’s Children, is the way to go.

4. Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde – Video gaming, ethics, future tech, fantasy role playing and a deadly accident combine in this old favorite of mine.   I need to read the rest of the books in the series, like, yesterday.

5. Pills and Starships by Lydia Millet – A huge favorite of mine from this year, and a pharmacological and ecological take on the dystopian trend.

6. Extras by Scott Westerfeld – I liked the Uglies series, but I never got farther than ‘liked’ until this, the fourth book.  Extras was the only one that didn’t feature Tally as the main character (go figure), and I really enjoyed it.  I thought it had a lot to say about our current celebrity- and tech-obsessed culture, and what it means for society’s future.  Plus it was just FUN, you know?

7. Epic by Conor Kostick – Another video game/sci-fi/fantasy mash-up sort of book, with added dystopia!  And dragons!  Stellar older (and by older I mean published before I began blogging) YA sci-fi, and on my re-read list for sure.

8. InterWorld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves – Yes, I put a Neil Gaiman title on this list.  Yes, I realize that Neil Gaiman is pretty much the opposite of underrated these days.  But have you read this book?  Because I’m betting you haven’t, and I thought it was an interesting take on parallel worlds.

9. Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund – One of the first genuinely sci-fi young adult books I ever read, and also a satisfying romance.  Will please fans of These Broken Stars and Diana Peterfreund’s YA sci-fi romances.

10. Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry – If you’re only going to read one YA zombie novel, this is the one to pick.  It’s good, features diverse characters, and its pulse-pounding pace is spot-on.

Would you add any books to this list?

waiting on wednesday (81)

Today I’m participating in "Waiting On" Wednesday, a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Its purpose is to spotlight upcoming book releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Last year I read a fantastic YA sci-fi novel (These Broken Starsby Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner).  I called it “a can't-put-it-down read, with a satisfying romantic element (no love triangles here!) and mystery.” At the time I also mentioned that it was the first in a series, and despite my rampant series fatigue, I was excited to read the next installment.  WELL, folks, it’s not a series.  Or it IS, just that each of the books is its own, self-contained story, featuring unique characters.  And that, meus amiginhos, is my favorite sort of series.  Can I repeat that I loved the first book?!  I can’t freaking wait for This Shattered World. It will be released by Disney-Hyperion on December 23, 2014.

this shattered world by amie kaufman and meagan spooner book cover
Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. His sister died in the original uprising against the powerful corporate conglomerate that rules Avon with an iron fist. These corporations make their fortune by terraforming uninhabitable planets across the universe and recruiting colonists to make the planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage against the military occupying his home, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape base together, caught between two sides in a senseless war.

What books are you waiting on?
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